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Cable Technology Feature Article

November 01, 2010

Cablevision, Fox Reach Agreement, TV Programming Restored to Millions of Subscribers

By Beecher Tuttle, TMCnet Contributor

Cablevision and News Corp (News - Alert)., reached a transmission fee agreement on Saturday, ending a contentious standoff that left more than 3 million New York-area subscribers without Fox programming for two full weeks.

The blackout ended just minutes before Game 3 of the World Series, which is being contested by the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers. Over the last two weeks, Cablevision subscribers have missed nearly a dozen playoff baseball games and a handful of local regular season NFL broadcasts.

Although both News Corp., and Cablevision declined to disclose any details of the agreement, most analysts assume that the local cable provider was forced to give in to the media conglomerate's demands.

“There was never any ambiguity about who had all the financial leverage in the negotiation," Craig Moffett, analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, told the Hollywood Reporter. "Fox is too large, Cablevision is too small, and Fox's sports programming is too indispensible."

Last year, Cablevision paid approximately $70 million for the right to broadcast 12 Fox channels. Officials with the cable provider said earlier in the negotiations that News Corp., was asking for $150 million for access to the same programming.

Judging by Cablevision's latest statement, one can only assume that the final agreement fell closer to News Corp's original offer.

"Cablevision has agreed to pay Fox an unfair price for multiple channels of its programming including many in which our customers have little or no interest," the cable operator said in a statement. "Cablevision conceded because it does not think its customers should any longer be denied the Fox programs they wish to see."

The nation's eighth-largest cable provider also chastised the FCC (News - Alert) for not delivering any "meaningful action" on behalf of consumers.

Cablevision's hand seemed to be forced after Dish Network announced on Friday that it had ended its standoff with News Corp and would again start broadcasting Fox programming.

The agreement between News Corp and Cablevision ends one of the longest and most heated contract negotiations the television world has seen in years. Leaders of both companies publicly berated each other in the media and even took out advertisements to bash one another during the negotiations.

It will be very interesting to see what happens after the current contract runs its course.

Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf