The Sunday deadline has come and gone and fans of ABC in parts of New Jersey, L.A., Chicago, Toledo and Flint, Mich. still have their signal, though no one knows for how long. Disney and Comcast, the two sides in this latest retransmission feud, insist they're still talking and if the ABC signal gets dropped, well, it certainly won't be Disney's/Comcast's' fault.
"We will not pull the signal," Comcast president Dave Watson said Friday in a statement. "Disney has the power to withdraw [retransmission] consent, but Comcast will not be the one to remove the ABC signal unless Disney forces us to."
The heart of the issue is that Disney, who owns ABC, wants Comcast, the third-largest cable company, to offer ToonDisney and SoapNet in addition to The Disney Channel to basic service subscribers gratis. Disney had a similar disagreement with Time-Warner in May this year. In that case, ABC was dark for two days until Time Warner agreed to carry the Disney Channel for seven years in return for access to the ABC stations.
In other Comcast news, the MSO has joined Decker Anstrom, CEO of The Weather Channel, in asking big government to refrain from imposing Internet open-access requirements on the AOL/Time Warner proposed merger. Interestingly, Anstrom pointed his scolding at Disney specifically, last week, when the company invited the FCC to take a closer look at regulating content on the AOL/TW interactive-TV platform.