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Cable Technology Feature Article

October 27, 2010

FCC Wants Real Negotiations Not Letters in World Series Dispute

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

The leadership of the Federal Communications Commission is apparently getting tired of the continuing series of allegations being aired via letters to the FCC (News - Alert) from News Corp. and Cablevision about News Corp.’s subsidiary, Fox, not allowing Cablevision to air the World Series.

Broadcasting & Cable reported that an unnamed senior FCC official appeared Tuesday night to be losing patience with the ongoing appeals from Cablevision, saying, "It's encouraging that Cablevision has a new 'constructive offer' and is prepared to negotiate in 'good faith.' But they should spend less time writing publicity-seeking letters to the FCC, and more time at the negotiating table reaching an agreement."

The effort by Cablevision to get the FCC to intervene, met with a rebuke from a senior FCC official, who dismissed the move as a stunt, The New York Times added.

In a recent letter that Cablevision President and CEO, James L. Dolan, sent to FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski (News - Alert), Dolan said he was interested in “ending the impasse with News Corp.” and wanted to ensure that their customers “are not deprived of the World Series.” “I will be in your office tomorrow, Wednesday, October 27, to meet with News Corp (News - Alert).'s Chase Carey, should you call a meeting,” the letter said.

“Only with your assistance in bringing the parties together in your office will productive, good faith talks occur,” Dolan added. “And I will commit to you that I will come ready with new, constructive offers, prepared to reach agreement tomorrow.”

He points out that earlier in October, the FCC offered mediation to help work through the dispute. “I respectfully urge you to bring the parties together in the FCC offices tomorrow to work to resolve this matter and bring the World Series to over three million New York, New Jersey and Connecticut homes,” Dolan said.

In a separate letter, Cablevision claimed that News Corp. acted in “utter bad faith” and the negotiations were at an impasse.

Fox, meanwhile, said it acted in good-faith during negotiations, and charges that Cablevision is incorrect when it claimed otherwise.

The dispute centers around how much Cablevision must pay News Corp. for the right to retransmit signals of stations it owns that carry the programming of the Fox network. That programming includes the N.F.L., as well as the World Series, The Times explained.

Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jaclyn Allard