Cablevision's Fox Blackout Drags Out

It's day three of Cablevision and Fox's standoff over a new contract and talks broke off Monday afternoon with no progress. After negotiating in person at News Corp headquarters in midtown, Fox execs are flying back to LA, to resume talks over the phone tomorrow. That means Cablevision customers *still* don't have Fox channels. If you're one of Cablevision's 3 million subscribers in the tri-state area you lost access to the Giants game last night and you may very well miss "Glee" on Tuesday.

What's the impact?

The longer this drags on, the higher the costs.

Cablevision risks losing subscribers to satellite TV operators like DirecTV and Dish or to Verizon FIOS. So far, sources close to the company say there's been no measurable impact on subscriber number. News Corp risk having to pay back advertisers who buy commercial time based on how many viewers they'll reach. So far this isn't a problem yet either — Fox says it far exceeded its guarantees to national advertisers during yesterday's Giants game. (National ads are the majority of the ad slots, though Fox may owe local advertiser for those slots).

Cablevision has amassed a group of elected officials from the affected area who advocate for binding arbitration. This afternoon Cablevision issued this statement that places blame on News Corp: “When broadcasters like News Corp. remove their signals, they hurt viewers in an attempt to gain business leverage. Cablevision agrees to submit to binding arbitration, as called for by more than 50 elected officials from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as the fastest and fairest way to return Fox programming to Cablevision viewers. We call on News Corp. to do the same.”

News Corp.'s headquarters in New York.
Mark Lennihan
News Corp.'s headquarters in New York.

But Fox says that the company is not negotiating in good faith and is demanding preferential treatment, rejecting the same terms to which other carriers have agreed: "It is increasingly clear that Cablevision's real intention is to continue making this their subscribers' problem in the hope that with enough inconvenience, politicians will intervene to protect Cablevision's huge profits — nearly $795 per subscriber last year. That is why Cablevision is calling for “arbitration” despite knowing that this is not a serious solution. After all, Cablevision would never agree to arbitration for its own MSG cable network. Indeed, MSG and MSG Plus recently went off the dial for millions of DISH subscribers – and MSG did not seek arbitration. Cablevision also continues to put out the false information that Fox is seeking $150 million in fees, which is simply not true."

The clock is ticking and subscribers will only become more frustrated.