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Cable Technology Feature Article

March 08, 2010

Cablevision Fights for Fair Deal From ABC Disney

By Madhubanti Rudra, TMCnet Contributor

When it comes to television entertainment, it is hard to ignore Cablevision Systems Corporation.
The company that curved a niche in the telecommunications, media and entertainment sectors has been in the limelight for quite some time. Despite all attempts of negotiation on the part of Cablevision, ABC Disney was adamant in its decision of pulling WABC off Cablevision at midnight Saturday night.
However, there is of course a silver lining to the clouds and that is: almost the entire nation seems to be in the side of Cablevision in its fight for a fair deal. More than 50 elected officials at the federal, state and local level have voiced their sympathy for the entertainment major and written letters to urge that Cablevision customers not lose access to WABC. The list of Cablevision sympathizers boasts of such high profile personalities as U.S. Senator John Kerry, Congressman Eliot Engel and New Jersey State Senator Paul Sarlo.
In addition to its operations in the entertainment sectors, Cablevision is nation’s one of the most trusted providers of cable, Internet, and voice offerings. In addition to this, the company owns and operates News 12 Networks, MSG Varsity and Newsday Media Group.
Cablevision’s assets also include Rainbow Media Holdings LLC and its programming and entertainment businesses, AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel, WE TV and IFC Entertainment, as well as Clearview Cinemas. Cablevision has been urging ABC Disney not to pull WABC off Cablevision at midnight Saturday night with high profile government officials echoing their appeals to keep the channel available to Cablevision customers while the companies work productively on a fair agreement.
Currently, among all the Cablevision’s programmers, ABC Disney is on the highest payroll. Cablevision currently pays ABC Disney more than $200 million per year for its extensive array of channels. ABC Disney however makes a demand of additional $40 million per annum from Cablevision and its customers. A failure to pay means removing of the signal---threatens ABC Disney. At 20 percent, this means a substantial increase and that is also for exactly the same programming.
“We agree with officials at the federal, state and local level that ABC Disney should not pull the plug on WABC and should instead negotiate in good faith with Cablevision to reach an agreement that is fair for our customers,” said Charles Schueler, Cablevision’s executive vice president of communications. “We want our customers to know that we will not pull this channel and we urge ABC Disney to make that same commitment. We pay ABC Disney more than $200 million a year, and now is not the time to demand $40 million in new fees for the same exact channels.”

Madhubanti Rudra is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Marisa Torrieri