Fox Rejects Cablevision Carriage Offer


UPDATED

NEW YORK -- News Corp./Fox and Cablevision struck out in their attempt to reach a new agreement for the carriage of Fox TV station signals before the World Series was set to start Wednesday night at 8 EDT.

But Cablevision announced late in the day that it will reimburse customers for buying a $9.95 postseason package to view the Series online through MLB.com.

"Customers who purchase the package and forward their purchase confirmation to Cablevision will have a $10 credit applied to their monthly bill within two billing cycles," it said.

Earlier,the media conglomerate accused the cable operator of trying to steal a base at the last second as it rejected at about 4 p.m. ET an offer -- made public by Cablevision around lunchtime -- to carry two Fox TV stations in New York and Philadelphia for one year to ensure its 3 million homes could catch the start of the San Francisco Giants-Texas Rangers showdown.

Although Cablevision said the offer came under terms proposed by Fox, the latter highlighted that the cable firm had offered terms proposed in a broader content package deal. Fox has made offers before that would also include News Corp.'s My9 station in New York or that station plus some cable channels. Fees for retransmission consent for the Fox stations alone would be more expensive, the company said.

"We remain committed to negotiating a fair deal with Cablevision, but today's incomplete proposal is not acceptable," Fox said. "Cablevision is seeking a discounted 'package rate' without buying the entire package. We have told Cablevision all along we are willing to negotiate a deal -- based on an entire suite of channels -- under the terms we have reached with Time Warner Cable and other providers or a stand-alone agreement for WNYW FOX5, WTXF FOX29 and WWOR My9."

Fox also called Cablevision's last-minute offer "yet another in a long line of publicity stunts."

Cablevision made the offer to News Corp./Fox for a carriage deal with just hours to go until the World Series, saying: "Simply put: We agree to pay the rate Fox charges Time Warner Cable for carriage of WNYW-Fox 5 New York and WTXF-Fox 29 Philadelphia for a period of one year."

In a statement, it also reiterated: "This is higher than the rate we pay any other New York broadcast station. This solution is in the best interest of not only baseball fans but of all Cablevision customers and Fox viewers."

Cablevision quickly responded to Fox's rejection, saying it was "very disappointed" and again called for intervention from Washington.

The FCC has encouraged the sides to reach an agreement as it doesn't have powers beyond reprimanding and fining companies for not negotiating "in good faith."

Cablevision proposed that CEO James Dolan meet News Corp. president, COO and deputy chairman Chase Carey in the office of FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.

"They should spend less time writing publicity-seeking letters to the FCC and more time at the negotiating table reaching an agreement," a senior FCC official said in shrugging off the suggestion. "By now, the message from the FCC should be crystal clear: Stop the stunts and start negotiating."

Evercore Partners analysts Alan Gould and Bryan Kraft estimated that Fox is looking for 60 cents in retrans fees in Year 1, which could grow to $1.50 in Year 5 if the parties reach such a long-term agreement. They previously had predicted a 50-cent fee that would double over the years.

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