Cablevision and the YES Network have taken their squabble to Washington.
YES's Leo Hindery has been talking to Reps. Jose Serrano and Eliot Engel, Democrats representing parts of the Bronx, to explain why their constituents aren't seeing Yankees games.
Hindery had a phone conversation with Engel last week and has exchanged letters with Serrano. During a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing last week, Serrano asked FCC Chairman Michael Powell if he could do anything to help, but Powell responded that the positions of both companies were reasonable and outside the realm of the FCC. Cablevision has met with the entire New York delegation, including Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Hilary Clinton, asking them not to get involved, sources say.
YES may be considering another route to pressure Cablevision: the network has retained the New York law firm of attorney David Boies (who also represents EchoStar on its proposed merger with Hughes Electronics). The law firm is representing YES in a class-action suit filed against both it and Cablevision, with the first hearing taking place on Monday, but sources suggest YES may be filing a larger antitrust suit against Cablevision.—P.A.
Columbia TriStar Television has gone to market with off-network syndicated runs of CBS sitcom King of Queens. The distributor has pitched the CBS, Fox and Tribune groups and is said to be making market-by-market pitches as well. Terms, per sources: five years, cash-plus-barter, possibly including second run in late night. The distributor is said to be pricing the show, which is targeted for fall 2003, for prime time access runs and is strongly touting the fact that it's been No. 1 at 8 p.m. on CBS in the key sales demos for past three years. The company declined to comment beyond confirming the show is being sold.—S.M.
House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) supports EchoStar's planned merger with DirecTV, sources say. Last week, Armey sent a letter to that effect to FCC Chairman Michael Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft. Armey's approval is important to EchoStar since it is one of the few unqualified shows of support a key member of Congress has given the company. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) has been behind the merger, and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) has been conditionally supportive.—P.A.
Advanced Communications, which six years ago was stripped by the FCC of DBS spectrum, wants to reopen the case based on some new evidence—an affidavit from former Commissioners James Quello and Andrew Barrett, the no votes in a 3-2 decision to strip the spectrum. They say "at least one" of the three other commissioners (they don't say which) admitted to voting for reclamation simply to generate revenue from a subsequent auction. They say that motivation makes the decision illegal. Advanced, whose spectrum is now held by EchoStar, is asking the FCC to halt the review of EchoStar's merger with DirecTV until its request is reviewed. Advanced attorney Kathleen Beggs concedes the petition is a long shot.—B.M.