FCC Urges Keeping Signals On, Third-Party Arbitration

Commission chimes in as midnight deadline approaches
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Updated 6:48 p.m. ET

Add the FCC to the list of folks urging Cablevision and Fox to keep the signals on and seeking third-party assistance, according to a source familiar with the FCC's contacts with both parties.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski earlier this week said the FCC was talking to both parties and urging them to resolve their retrans dispute.

According to a Cablevision source familiar with the conversation, the FCC contacted both Fox and Cablevision Friday afternoon and asked them to keep the programming on past midnight, come down to Washington next Tuesday, and the FCC would help mediate a solution.

"We've accepted the FCC's offer and believe they have the power to order it," Cablevision said in a statement.

But there was some confusion over whether the FCC had offered to be the middleman.

Cablevision's statement was followed not long after by a press release from New York Rep. Steve Israel, who had called for arbitration. Israel said the FCC had offered to mediate, Cablevision had accepted but Fox had declined.

But asked whether the commission had offered to do the mediation, an FCC source also familiar with the conversation said no.

The deadline for a deal is midnight tonight (Oct. 15).

The two sides were still negotiating at press time. "We're in a room right now in New York," said a source.

Fox said earlier Friday that outside arbitration would reward Cablevision for "refusing to negotiate fairly" and would only lead to more such disputes.

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