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Cablevision vs. Fox: No Binding Arbitration; Blackout Possible

Thursday, 14 Oct 2010 | 6:42 PM ET

Fox is refusing binding arbitration of its negotiation with Cablevision, which means Cablevision subscribers may lose Fox channels starting at 12:01 Saturday morning. This is just the latest stand-off between content creators and distributors. The question at hand: how much is content worth? And who will fold first?

Thursday Cablevision issued a statement, agreeing to binding arbitration and urged Fox to agree NOT to disrupt programming for customers. Cablevision noted in a release that it "already pays News Corp $70 million every year for its channels and News Corp. is demanding more than $150 million a year for the exact same programming."

Fox shot back, rejecting the plea for binding arbitration, saying in a statement: "Binding arbitration would, unfortunately, reward Cablevision for refusing to negotiate fairly and will only ensure that more unnecessary disputes arise in the future."

This is the bottom line: "Direct business-to-business negotiation is the only way to resolve this issue, while also preserving the long-term stability of the broadcast system." Translation: Fox has leverage and it's going to use it.

The clock is ticking. At midnight Friday, Cablevision's customers could see Fox 5 and My9 go black.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com
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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.