VIDEO: Cablevision And ABC Take Their Negotiation Feud To WABC Channel 7

Last night, negotiations between ABC and Cablevision reached a boiling point as Channel 7 aired a PSA (above) warning “The Bachelor” viewers that ABC would pull out of Cablevision this weekend if the company does not agree to the network’s proposed fee hike. According to the announcement, ABC has asked for $40 million in new annual fees from Cablevision.

Cablevision very recently had a similar dispute with Scripps Networks, which owns Food Network and HGTV.

ABC has issued a statement of their own, available in full after the jump:

Starting today, WABC-TV, Channel 7 in New York will begin running messaging on-air to alert local Cablevision subscribers in Long Island, Westchester, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and selected suburbs of Connecticut and New Jersey, that as of 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 7, 2010, they may no longer have access to the station due to an unfortunate impasse in retrans negotiations.

ABC7 wants to be sure that viewers who may be affected by this situation know they have other service options, including, as always, receiving WABC-TV free, over-the-air. To that end, these messages will point consumers to a website, www.saveABC7.com, and a toll-free number, 877-990-ABC7, for more information.

Leading up to the deadline, ABC7 will also be running ads in local print, radio and online media to further education viewers on the situation.

Below is a copy of an Open Letter ad that will be running this week and a statement from Rebecca Campbell, WABC-TV’s President & General Manager.

With the help of our viewers, we’ve built ABC7 into the most watched station in the country, and have been trying for two years to get Cablevision to acknowledge the station’s value to their business. Despite our best efforts, it has now become clear that Cablevision has no intention of coming to a fair agreement. We can no longer sit back and allow Cablevision to use our shows for free while they continue to charge their customers for them. We’ve worked too hard and invested too many millions of dollars in programming and community outreach, to be taken advantage of any longer – especially since our viewers can watch their favorite ABC7 shows free, over-the-air, or by switching to one of Cablevision’s competitors.

Background Facts on the current ABC7 / Cablevision situation

Year-after-year, ABC7 is the most watched TV channel in the New York metro area – in fact, it is the most watched TV channel in all of America — but Cablevision’s position is that ABC7 is worth little to nothing to its business.For the past two years, we have tried to negotiate fair compensation for Cablevision’s use of WABC Channel 7 as part of the broadcast basic package of channels that Cablevision sells to consumers. We have intentionally extended month-to-month for the past two years in good faith in order to work out an agreement.

Cablevision charges customers up to $18 each month for the Broadcast Basic tier, which includes WABC, and shares none of that with WABC-TV.The value we are placing on WABC is representative of the value WABC delivers to Cablevision’s business. We have been consistent on this price point in all of our historical retrans proposals, long before any recent retrans disputes and public battles.

Cablevision’s consistent response has been that WABC-TV, Channel 7, is worth little to nothing to Cablevision’s business, and has only proposed restrictive, unreasonable offers. Our stance on retransmission consent is to get paid appropriately for the value our stations deliver to distributors (particularly in big markets like New York). Having tried to negotiate for the past two years, we simply can no longer extend our ABC content with Cablevision beyond March 6th unless we receive appropriate cash compensation.

Cablevision pays programmers about a third of the retail price of expanded basic for the programming that is carried on that tier – and none of that goes to WABC. Industry data shows that cable operators have increased total retail prices by $5 for every $1 in programming costs.

Cablevision itself owns channels like AMC, Sundance, IFC and MSG and pays fees to its own channels and charges other cable operators for the use of its channels. It is patently unfair and unsustainable for Cablevision to pay fees to less popular channels and to pay fees to its own channels while refusing to payreasonable value to the most watched channel, one that goes above-and-beyond to serve its viewers and the communities in which they live.