Fox Stations' Letter to Cablevision Subscribers: Here's Why There's No Deal

New York duopoly's general manager writes that the company is "profoundly disappointed" there's no new deal with the cable provider.

Lew Leone, vp and general manager of WNYW FOX5 and WWOR My9 -- the two News Corp. stations in New York affected by the carriage dispute with Cablevision -- late Sunday published an open letter to Cablevision customers, reiterating Fox's argument that other distributors are paying the carriage fees offered to the cable operator and outlining some other financial arguments. Here's the complete letter:


October 17, 2010

Dear Cablevision Subscriber:

We understand that the loss of FOX5 and My9 is frustrating and probably has you feeling angry at both companies. We, too, are profoundly disappointed that, despite working hard for many months to avoid this, Cablevision has declined to renew our agreement.

But it is important for you, our viewers, to understand why this is happening.

We offered Cablevision the exact same price that other companies are paying for our stations.

But for some reason, Cablevision thinks that it deserves special treatment.

Instead of negotiating like a responsible business, Cablevision decided to make this your problem in the hope that if they caused you, the viewer, enough inconvenience, then politicians would intervene.

That is what Cablevision's call for "arbitration" is all about. But ask yourself -- do you think Cablevision would be ok with someone else stepping in to decide the price you pay them for cable and broadband service?

And the Cablevision family certainly doesn't allow arbitrators to set the rates for their cable channels like MSG and AMC. In fact, just a few weeks ago, MSG and MSG Plus went off the dial for millions of DISH Network subscribers -- and MSG did not ask for arbitration.

Cablevision has called us greedy. It's an interesting charge, given the fact that the price we've offered Cablevision for FOX5 and My9 is more than 70% lower than what the Cablevision family charges other cable operators for MSG and MSG Plus.

Frankly, it is hard to believe a company like Cablevision is accusing anyone else of greed. Cablevision customers pay an average of $149 per month including up to $18 for broadcast stations – and that earned them an average profitof over $795 per subscriber last year. Yet, they have only offered to pay less than a penny a day for FOX5 and My9.

Cablevision has stated that they intend to provide you with a rebate. But if the rebate is equal to what they offered Fox for our stations, you can look forward to a credit of less than 30 cents on your next bill.

Fortunately you have options. All other providers in the New York area carry FOX5 and My9, and of course our stations remain available over the air and can be accessed with an antenna.

We'll continue to talk to Cablevision in hopes of restoring FOX5 and My9 on your lineup. In the meantime we hope you'll understand that it is no accident that Cablevision keeps getting into these fights over and over and over again.

For some reason, Cablevision simply feels it doesn't have to play by the same rules as everyone else. And you shouldn't be the ones to pay the price. You might consider letting Cablevision know that you believe your right to see the NFL on FOX, the Major League Baseball National League Championship Series and World Series, "Glee," "House" and all the other shows you love are worth more than a penny a day.


Lew Leone

Vice President and General Manager