Fox, Cablevision Resolve Carriage Dispute

NEW YORK -- After two weeks of a sometimes harsh public relations battle, News Corp./Fox and Cablevision have reached a new distribution agreement covering TV stations and cable networks.

The deal covers programming from News Corp. stations WNYW FOX5 and WWOR My9 in New York, WTXF FOX29 in Philadelphia, as well as the cable channels Fox Deportes, Fox Business Network, and Nat Geo WILD. 

The signals for all stations and cable channels were restored Saturday prior to the first pitch of World Series Game 3 on Fox, the companies said.

The agreement comes after Fox had reached a carriage deal with Dish Network on Friday.

"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. 

"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."

The cable operator also once again called for new regulation. "It is clear the retransmission consent system is badly broken and needs to be fixed," it said.

No financial details of the deal were disclosed. Analysts have estimated that Fox has been getting 50 cents-plus per subscriber per month in retransmission consent fees for its TV stations in the starting years of its retrans deals with cable and satellite TV distributors, with fees escalating to about $1 in later years of those arrangements.

Industry observers have said that Cablevision lost leverage in the Fox showdown once Dish reached its agreement on Friday and it became clear that there would be no political intervention to resolve this dispute. But observers said Cablevision may have been vocal enough to help lay the groundwork for new retrans rules.

Senator John Kerry and others have been pushing for new regulation that would make it harder for broadcasters to pull their signals in the case of a dispute. He plans to introduce an overhaul bill after the midterm elections.