Programming to be restored in time for World Series, after nasty feud that cost the companies tens of millions of dollars in fees and lost advertising
Cablevision and News Corp. reached an agreement on programming fees Saturday, ending a two-week-long blackout on Fox programming.
Fox channels will return to Cablevision immediately — and in time for Saturday's World Series game and Sunday's NFL match-up between the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers.
With a deal reached, some 3 million subscribers in the New York area will once again have access to Fox 5 (WNYW), Fox 29 (WTXF), My9, Fox Business Network, National Geographic Wild and Fox Deportes.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. It's safe to assume, however, that the cable provider agreed to pay higher retransmission fees than it is currently.
Indeed, Cablevision seemed none too happy about the arrangement, releasing a statement that was notable for its bitter tone. Not only did it slam Fox, but it also expressed disappointment with the federal government for failing to step in and mediate the dispute.
"In the absence of any meaningful action from the FCC, Cablevision has agreed to pay Fox an unfair price for multiple channels of its programming including many in which our customers have little or no interest," Cablevision said in a statement. "Cablevision conceded because it does not think its customers should any longer be denied the Fox programs they wish to see."
For its part, News Corp. released a straightforward announcement that the blackout was ending.
The nasty feud cost the companies tens of millions of dollars in fees and lost advertising — not to mention enraged millions of Cablevision customers.
Carriage battles have become increasingly public recently, as content providers fight to find alternate sources of revenue and cable companies struggle to maintain their bottom lines.
In the past year alone, Cablevision customers have endured pulled signals by Scripps and the Walt Disney Co. when negotiations went off the rails. Media companies such as Time-Warner, Hallmark, and Dish have also engaged in high stakes brinkmanship over programming fees.
In this case, many analysts speculated that Cablevision CEO James Dolan was using the fight with News Corp. to pressure the government into drafting laws mandating binding arbitration as part of all retranamission disputes.
That gambit didn't entirely pay off for Dolan, but there are indications that over the long term the federal government may become more involved. Though public officials such as Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) decried the blackout and vowed to introduce legislation, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski refrained from directly injecting himself into the standoff.
For News Corp., as well as other networks, retransmission fees have become an increasingly important source of revenue, one that the company's chairman Rupert Murdoch has shown a willingness to go to the mat for in order to protect.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the steeper costs for carrying the channels will likely be passed along to subscribers. The end result of retransmission fights is almost inevitably higher subscription fees.
The deal comes on the heels of Friday's announcement that Fox and satellite company Dish had reached their on retransmission agreement following another weeks long standoff.