Day Four: Cablevision/Fox Dispute Rages On
FCC chairman urges parties to reach resolution
By John Eggerton, B&C & Mike Farrell, Multichannel News -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/19/2010 9:00:00 PM
Fox pulled its broadcast stations in New York and New Jersey as well as cable networks Fox Deportes, NatGeo Wild and Fox Business Network on Oct. 1.
As a result, Cablevision customers will miss Game 3 of Major League Baseball's National League Championship Series, which was scheduled to air at 4 p.m. today.
In a statement, Genachowski said he had phone conversations with the CEOs of both companies, adding that he was "deeply troubled that Cablevision and Fox are spending more time attacking each other through ads and lobbyists than sitting down at the negotiating table. The time for petty gamesmanship is over."
The chairman added that the FCC would attempt to determine whether either side was not negotiating in good faith, a point at which the agency is empowered to step in per the retransmission consent law.
Genachowski's comments come on the heels of a draft bill introduced by U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) that would require broadcasters to keep their signals on distributors' systems through negotiations and would make the FCC mediator in such talks.
But so far, both sides are at a stalemate. Fox negotiators, after a few days in New York, headed back to Los Angeles on Monday. Tuesday's negotiations consisted of a brief phone call according to Fox, although the talks are expected to continue Wednesday.
Cablevision again called for independent third party arbitration to settle the matter, with Fox claiming that direct business-to-business negotiations are the right way to go.
Both sides have increasingly stepped up the vitriol as the battle has raged on, with Cablevision calling Fox "greedy" and Fox calling Cablevision "hypocrites." In a statement Tuesday, Fox pointed to Cablevision's poor memory regarding requests for government intervention.
Fox pointed to a filing the cable company made to the Federal Communications Commission three weeks ago arguing against using arbitration or stand stills to resolve a dispute between its MSG and MSG Plus sports networks and satellite distributor Dish Network.
"The Commission may not compel MSG to involuntarily continue providing its programming to Dish without contravening the First Amendment." Cablevision said in the filing, according to Fox. "The public will not be well served by a precedent under which (distributors) need not negotiate in good faith, but can deliberately delay negotiations up to the brink of a programming pressure point, put forward a bad faith proposal and then rely on the FCC to provide a one-sided standstill remedy that allows the distributor to jettison key consideration for the right to carry that service."
While Fox called the filing evidence of Cablevision's "startling hypocrisy," the MSO had a more tempered response.
"Both parties have a position, but only Cablevision has joined with more than 50 government leaders with a solution, binding arbitration under the direction of a neutral third party," Cablevision executive vice president of communications Charles Schueler said in a statement. "By now it should be clear even to News Corp. that binding arbitration is the fastest and fairest way to return Fox programming to our customers."
What has happened to our "free enterprise" system?? I thought "competition" was at the base of our countrys' very survival, financially. We as Americans have been asleep at the helm, and not made any noise about the ursurping by big government of our companies, banks, new media, etc. And when one conglomerate like Cablevision whines, that should be a signal of just how far we have gone. Cablevision, stop playing Obamas game, and leave FOX alone. They're the only news media we have left that is "FREE",i.e., haven't "sold out" to Obama and his Marxist brotherhood yet, and I just hope they won't! Go find another country to ruin Cablevision! Ooops!! Forgot, there aren't any more countries that haven't been ruined by the socialist/progressives.
Fay Uyechi - 10/21/2010 11:56:21 AM EDT
Cablevision & Dish Network: Listen up! Instead of going it alone, get your competitors involved. Everyone is or is going to be in the same situation sooner or later. Get together as a group - Demand a fair price or threaten to drop Fox completely - every single Fox channel that you carry. If that came to be, Fox would be on their knees because without carriage they will get ratings in the toilet and that means less money. Work together, not independently. Use your heads and get your acts together so you can get back to business (making obscene profits).
Zack.Gast - 10/20/2010 12:51:19 PM EDT
Wait until yearend when several more programming agreements expire. It will be a free for all! Must Carry/Retrans law was passed in the early 1990's before satellite and phone company competition and cable had 100% market share. At that time they dominated programming negotiations. Now cable's market share is below 70% and broadcasters are also the largest owners of cable channels. Broadcasters are the market abusers now. Unfortunately Washington intervention is the only solution. BTW I do not work for a US cable company.
Jim Clark - 10/20/2010 11:25:06 AM EDT
Like we used to tell people, "We'll be happy to send a man over to take channel five out of your television, but...should you ever want to watch us again, it will cost you $500.00 to put it back."
Ken W. English - 10/20/2010 8:01:50 AM EDT
I was a regular watcher of Fox news and when service is restored it will never see the screen of my TV again. Also, I will be moving within a year and my next cable TV provider will be Verizon Fios. If it wasn't for the sports I would love to kiss both of these stupid companies goodbye. Nothing like biting the hand that feeds you.
Michael Mason - 10/19/2010 5:00:20 PM EDT
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