Fox Pulls Plug on Cablevision

News Corp. pulled its New York and Philadelphia TV signals and a number of its Fox cable channels off Cablevision as of midnight Oct. 16. About 3 million Cablevision subscribers will be unable to view programming aired on Fox5 (WNYW in New York), My9 (WWOR in New York), Fox29 (WTXF in Philadelphia), Fox Business Network, NatGeoWild and Fox Deportes.

Like all retransmission spats, this one comes with dueling press releases and anguished finger pointing. It generated the usual weigh-ins from the Federal Communications Commission and Congressional leaders, bemoaning that their constituents will be deprived of critical programming—in this case, the baseball playoffs and Sunday’s Giants-Eagles game.

As the standoff came to a head on Friday, Cablevision offered to settle its differences with News Corp. via binding arbitration, but the latter would have none of it. 

The FCC (which has no jurisdiction in these matters) and scores of Congressional leaders issued statements that referenced Cablevision’s arbitration offer. Fox stated that direct business-to-business negotiation is the only way to resolve the issue, per the regulations promulgated by Congress.

In a release dated Oct. 16, Cablevision said it pays News Corp. $70 million a year to carry the Fox channels, and that the broadcaster is now demanding $150 million a year, a cost that would inevitably be passed along to consumers.

News Corp. countered in its own release, saying that it is only seeking equitable value for its programming and that it has offered numerous proposals to Cablevision. Calling the cable firm “hypocritical,” News Corp. pointed out that Cablevision is paying more to itself for just two of its own channels than it pays for 12 Fox channels, despite the higher ratings of the Fox programming.