Cablevision Calls Bob Iger on Carpet

Day five of retransmission dispute between cabler, ABC features more statements, little progress

Last Updated: March 6, 2010 @ 1:00 AM

Day five of the he said, she said between ABC and Cablevision featured the requisite barbs from both sides as Disney’s Sunday deadline for an agreement on retransmission fees — and a potential Oscar broadcast blackout for New York — looms.

The only notable twist on Friday came from Cablevision, which invoked Disney chief Bob Iger’s name for the first time since the dispute began.

“There is one man who is going to decide whether New York gets to see the Oscars, and that’s Disney president and CEO Bob Iger," Cablevision executive VP Charles Schueler said. "Cablevision already pays Disney more than $200 million a year and now they are demanding $40 million more. We call on Bob Iger to stop holding his own viewers hostage, end his threats to pull the plug on ABC at midnight and instead work with us to reach a fair agreement. The switch is in Bob Iger’s hands.”

Bob IgerWABC-TV president and general manager Rebecca S. Campbell countered: “It’s time for Cablevision to stop spinning this issue and get serious about doing right by their customers. The fact is that, over and over again, Cablevision picks fights with programmers, and it is Cablevision subscribers who suffer the loss.

"The inconvenient truth about Cablevision is that it pockets hundreds of millions of dollars in subscriber fees each year by carrying ABC7. Dropping our station would be the latest insult," she continued. "Their customers should know they have choices: They can switch service now and take their business to a provider that values them and isn’t threatening them with the loss of programming every few months, or get us free-over-the-air.”

Meanwhile, I asked the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday to weigh in on the scuffle.

Leslie Unger, director of communications over at AMPAS, responded via e-mail. "The Academy hopes the situation is resolved before Sunday night."

(If this Oscar gig doesn’t work out, I hear there’s a job as a U.S. ambassador to Switzerland waiting for her.)

T-minus 28 hours til ABC’s deadline …

UPDATE: In a statement issued late Friday afternoon, Campbell said: 

“It’s an insult to Cablevision customers that, with literally hours to go before losing access to ABC7, Cablevision is personally attacking Disney executives. Does Cablevision have such little regard for its subscribers’ intelligence to think that they don’t know a negotiation takes two parties? The inconvenient truth is that ABC7 has been prepared to reach a fair agreement for two years and Cablevision has refused to do its part. If Cablevision CEO James Dolan and the Dolan Family Dynasty have any regard at all for the millions of customers who pay hard-earned dollars for their service, they will order their troops to stop slinging mud and start cutting a deal.”

More to read: 

ABC vs. Cablevision, Day 4: Howard Stern Weighs In
ABC vs. Cablevision Getting Ugly
Cablevision Digs in for Fight With ABC-Bashing Video
No Oscars?!! ABC Threatens to Go Dark in New York in Spat With Cablevision on Sunday