Cablevision Loses Fox in Carriage Dispute

The cable company, net miss midnight deadline

Cablevision Systems customers lost some News Corp./Fox programming as of midnight EST after the two couldn't agree on terms for a new carriage agreement for three TV stations and several cable channels.

The latest high-profile carriage dispute led to the loss of Fox channels and stations covered in the negotiations and means that Cablevision users will for now be without playoff baseball games and weekend football, among other things.

Despite an overnight war of words over who was to blame, the two companies were set to start meeting again for another round of talks Saturday at noon EST.

Cablevision and News Corp./Fox negotiated at News Corp.'s headquarters Friday afternoon. But the entertainment giant rejected a suggestion from the FCC that the companies bring in a third-party mediator for the dispute. 

Both sides blamed the other side, saying it didn't negotiate in good faith. 

Fox said around midnight that Cablevision declared an impasse at 8pm, which led to the company's subscribers to lose the programming.

"We deeply regret that Cablevision refuses to recognize the value of our programming,” said WNYW FOX5 and WWOR MY9 vp and general manager Lew Leone. The two New York stations are among those covered by a previous arrangement that expired at midnight.

Added Mike Hopkins, president of Fox Networks affiliate sales and marketing, “We remain far apart and Cablevision has made it clear that they do not share our view regarding the value of Fox’s networks. After days of posturing and the appearance of negotiating, they formally stopped even the pretense of negotiating at 8pm – declaring an ‘impasse’ – and made no further efforts toward reaching a new agreement before the expiration.”  

He claimed that Fox remains willing to negotiate and hopes "that future talks ultimately will be productive." 

Cablevision customers lost New York broadcast stations FOX5 and MY9, for which Fox was looking for higher retransmission consent fees than the cable operator was willing to pay. They also lost a Philadelphia Fox station, Fox Deportes, Fox Business Network, and Nat Geo Wild.

 “News Corp.’s decision to remove Fox programming from three million Cablevision households is a black eye for broadcast television in America," said Charles Schueler, Cablevision’s executive vp of communications. "News Corp has refused to negotiate in good faith and rejected calls from dozens of political leaders to not pull the plug and join Cablevision in binding arbitration." 

FCC commissioner Julius Genachowski also chimed in. "I am disappointed that Fox and Cablevision have not found a way to ensure that consumers could enjoy uninterrupted carriage of Fox broadcast stations on Cablevision systems," he said.

"I remain hopeful that these two companies will do what is in the best interest of consumers and find a way quickly to resolve their differences."