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It's over: Cablevision, Fox reach retrans accord

Mon, 11/01/2010 - 8:45am
Mike Robuck

Hours before the third game of the World Series on Saturday, Fox Networks and Cablevision ended their two-week retransmission standoff, which resulted in Cablevision's subscribers being able to watch Fox's programming.

News Corp.-owned Fox yanked its programming, which included Fox 5, Fox 29, My9, Fox Business Network, National Geographic Wild and Fox Deportes, off the air from Cablevision's 3 million subscribers in the New York metro area and part of Philadelphia on Oct. 16.

Cablevision asked for binding arbitration and aid from various lawmakers and the Federal Communications Commission to no avail before signing a new deal on Saturday. Financial terms weren't available.

It wasn't a warm and fuzzy moment for Cablevision.

"In the absence of any meaningful action from the FCC, Cablevision has agreed to pay Fox an unfair price for multiple channels of its programming, including many in which our customers have little or no interest," Cablevision said in a statement issued on Saturday. "Cablevision conceded because it does not think its customers should any longer be denied the Fox programs they wish to see.

"In the end, our customers will pay more than they should for Fox programming, but less than they would have if we had accepted the unprecedented rates News Corp. was demanding when they pulled their channels off Cablevision."

Over the two-week blackout, Cablevision customers missed out on episodes of "Glee" and "House," as well as sports programming that included the first two World Series games between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants and a New York Giants football game.

Fox's press release noted that Cablevision's customers would be able to watch Saturday's World Series game and Sunday's New York Jets football game.

Cablevision offered to reimburse its subscribers $10 if they elected to watch the first two World Series games online at MLB.com. The nation's fifth-largest cable operator also pitched a one-year deal to pay Fox the same rate that Time Warner Cable pays, but Fox turned it down.

Fox also played hardball by blocking Cablevision subscribers from viewing shows on its Web portal at one point.

While Fox and Cablevision were finally able to reach an accord, the ongoing problems of negotiating distribution agreements still remain between networks and video service providers.
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