Will Fox's Cablevision Blackout Be Resolved Before The World Series?

We’re now in the middle of Day 7 of the Fox/Cablevision slap fight that has left millions of Cablevision subscribers from Connecticut to Pennsylvania without Fox stations.

It appears unlikely that the situation will be resolved in time for tomorrow afternoon’s National League Championship Series game on Fox or Sunday’s NFL games.

And as we draw closer to the Oct. 27 start date of the World Series on Fox, many are concerned that Cablevision subscribers will be left in the dark.

The executive director of something called the Sports Fans Coalition has sent the following letter to NewsCorp’s Grand Vizier Rupert Murdoch regarding both the Cablevision ordeal and NewsCorp’s earlier decision to pull several sports channels from Dish Network:

Dear Mr. Murdoch,

I am writing on behalf of the members of Sports Fans Coalition and sports fans everywhere. We would like you to let us watch our favorite games again.

On October 15, your company, News Corp., took down Fox programming from Cablevision subscribers. This means that sports fans with Cablevision have missed NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL games. Worse, some fans may miss the World Series.

On October 1, your company, News Corp., took down Fox regional sports programming from DISH Network subscribers. These fans have also missed NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA games. And your company is threatening to remove all Fox programming by November 1, meaning that these fans may also miss World Series games.

We realize that there are two sides to every dispute. But your company chose to take down this programming knowing that it would harm sports fans. We ask you to please put these games back on and settle your disputes behind closed doors or with arbitration.

You are choosing to withhold these games and millions of sports fans continue to miss their games. Please find another way to settle these matters.

Of course, with both the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees teetering on the brink of elimination, there’s a chance that many of those 3 million Cablevision subscribers won’t care so much about a Texas vs. San Francisco World Series.

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  1. TuxthePenguin says:

    And why isn’t pressure being put on Cablevision? They could make this all go away as well…

    • uberbitter says:

      The only thing they could do is give them as much money as they demand, which would lead to higher cable rates and set the stage for News Corp and other conglomerates to demand as much money as they want in the future. No thanks.

      Cablevision is willing to work with them but News Corp is having none of it.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        Do we really know that New Corp is being the stumbling block in all of this? From what I’ve read (you can’t really get many details), this is what happened.

        News Corp and Cablevision had a contract for $X. Contract expires.

        News Corp says they sell their programing at $X+2 to other entities, wants Cablevision to pay that.

        Cablevision says, no, we should only pay $X+1.

        Neither side moves. There are two (well, three) possibilities – Cablevision is trying to use some monoposony power to bring down its cost (ie, they are a huge buyer of News Corp so they can try and set their price) or News Corp is trying to use its monopoly power to set its price higher than it has in the past. Both of those are the “fiendish” possibilities. The other possibility is News Corp is being honest and X+2 really is the price but Cablevision doesn’t want to pay that. Nothing nefarious, just reality.

        I just laugh that everyone believes that its News Corp that is at fault when we have nothing except both side’s statements for evidence.

        • NYGuy1976 says:

          Something must be going on with Cablevision for them to have 3 channel shutdowns in the past year due to payment disputes. First it was food Network I believe, then ABC, and now Fox. Are all cable companies having these problems or is it just Cablevision?

        • uberbitter says:

          From the information that was available at the beginning of the dispute, News Corp was unwilling to accept anything lower than their initial demand. They’re demanding an awful lot of money when their bread and butter station (generic Fox) is available over the air (with a crappy antenna made from some foam and coat hanger in my case). Additionally, they pulled all of their channels except Fox News. So yeah, News Corp is at fault.

          Besides, ultimately I’m going to side with Cablevision anyway because the more they have to pay for programming, the higher my cable bill gets.

        • damageddude says:

          NewsCorp wants to raise rates.
          Those raises will not be coming from the Dolans but from the consumers in higher cable rates.
          They want to take more money from me so, in this instance, they are the badder guys (I don’t like the Dolans either).

          I can live without Fox. And I’m pretty sure the NFL (Giants/Eagles) and major league baseball (World Series) aren’t going to be thrilled that 3M Philadelphia and NYC area subscribers will not be able to watch their commercials.

        • Mythandros says:

          I work in the cable industry.

          Broadcasters CONSTANTLY try to demand too much for their programming.

          I’m not at all surprised that X+2 was refused. I’m SURE that news corp is charging too much, they’re trying to deal with my company too.. they want too much. We have decided not to carry them. (I am in Canada, West coast.)

          News Corp actually tried to force our CRTC (Our governing organization for cable vision content) to capitulate to their unreasonable demands even though their demands were not within the law set by the CRTC.

          They finally decided to “abide by the rules set by the CRTC”, how thoughtfull of them, huh? That they’re finally agreeing to obey the law.

          Faux News is NOT coming up here, nobody here wants them. Honestly, no Fox programming = very good. At least in my book.

    • Macgyver says:

      Well, why should Cablevision give into NewsCorp demands? If they do, then all these content providers will look at Cablevision as being weak and not standing up for themselves.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        Because *gasp* maybe News Corp isn’t being evil and is just wanting the going market rate (ie, what others have agreed to) for its programming.

        See below… I fleshed it out more there.

        • Dre' says:

          “maybe News Corp isn’t being evil “

          I LOL’d.

        • damageddude says:

          If they give in that will ultimately mean a higher cable bill for users. That extra money won’t be coming from the Dolans, it will be coming from subscribers. Aside from Giants football, I’m finding I’m not missing Fox. Like when HGTV and Food channel went off for a few weeks, I found other shows to watch and didn’t go back to their shows I used to watch.

        • ajaxd says:

          Did you see the news that they also blocked Hulu access for Cablevision customers which has nothing to do with cable TV access? That’s about as evil as it gets.

        • Griking says:

          If Fox wins this expect every other local network to look for the same deal.

    • mac-phisto says:

      this is a typical negotiation tactic – it’s like when workers strike to force a company to meet contract demands.

      the problem, as i see it, is that pulling programming like this during negotiations is a dirty way to force the other side to meet your demands. it’s not really negotiating in good faith. sure, cablevision has a hand in this – perhaps they aren’t meeting any of newscorp’s contract demands – but newscorp shouldn’t have pulled the programming until after negotiations ceased & there was no meeting of the minds.

      just like we don’t allow public workers to strike, i don’t think broadcasters should have the right to yank their broadcast like this – that should be a condition of their licensing. newscorp is simply holding baseball hostage to push thru their contract package. unfair!

  2. Mike says:

    When are we going to get real competition for cable in the US? I see little pockets of it here and there, but no real competition.

    • NYGuy1976 says:

      Almost everybody has access to a cable company, directv, and Dish network. Thats 3 choices that almost every home has. Some people in large cities have even more than that. What is real competition?

      • IThinkThereforeIAm says:

        You must’a been joking.
        That’s (as I look at their pricing) is NOT competition – they offer pretty much the same programming and *inconvenience for slightly varying over-price.

        (* I do refer here to the requirement of having multiple receivers for each of your devices, usually for a nice rental/lease fee each).

      • Mike says:

        “What is real competition?”

        Real competition would be three CABLE providers. You gave me one cable provider and two dish providers. I want a cable choice, you know, actual wires coming into my home, like other countries have.

  3. jason in boston says:

    Get an antennia? I got one for my parents that live 40 miles west of Boston. The picture looks better than anything that cable / satellite can give them.

  4. sonneillon says:

    I guess the question is how many people are going to leave Cablevision versus how much revenue Newscorp loses. It is simply possible that fox will just not license to Cablevision.

    The question is who needs who the most. I think Cablevision is going to lose this spat and end up paying an extra 20-30 cents a consumer, which they will pass on of course.

    Now when Kabletown gets into a blackout beware there will be riots.

  5. axiomatic says:

    Cancel cancel cancel!!!!

    Teach these douchebags a lesson that your paying customers may NOT be used as leverage.

    • Yankees368 says:

      How do you cancel FOX? They are the ones that pulled off the air, not Cablevision. Would you rather cable companies just give into the demand of every network, and pass the cray high fees on to you every single time? I didn’t think so.

      • Haven says:

        Cablevision does the same with their MSG HD channels by refusing them to other cable networks and is the only reason why I stick with them. Once MSG HD is offered on FIOS, Cablevision’s hold on me will be over with and I won’t have to deal with them anymore.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        Fox pulled the channels because they were not being paid (what they think is) a fair price for their product. Its their right.

        How is it you automatically assume this is News Corp’s fault? Unless you have insider information, you have to assume both sides are playing to their advantage. Obviously, News Corp is asking for a higher price than before (or we wouldn’t be having that problem). They have consistently said that they are asking what others pay. So either Cablevision had a sweetheart deal or an old, long-lived deal. Cablevision probably is trying to get News Corp to come down from that price. That’s just good negotiating.

        Here’s the question – could maybe Cablevision be trying to “save” 30 cents per customer, but NOT reduce rates, and pocket that as extra profit? Just as easily as News Corp could be tying to charge 30 cents more per customer and pocket it as profit?

        • Yankees368 says:

          Of course its FOX’s fault, they are the one who pulled the channel. The fact of the matter is that FOX and My9 are available for FREE over the air, so they are lucky they get anything. FOX’s argument is that Cablevison charges its customers for access or FOX. Of course they do, it’s a service! In exchange for some money, CV provides you with a worry free, digital connection to the station, as opposed to worrying about an antenna.
          FOX pulled off CV, not the other way around.

          • Megalomania says:

            Fox is not obligated to give Cablevision anything – there is no contract between them at the moment. Saying Fox was definitively in the wrong is like saying that quitting when your employer won’t give you a raise is wrong as well.

            It’s unfortunate, but until there’s actual a la carte availability where cable providers have a service fee and pass the cost of each channel directly to consumers, the end users are going to keep ending up as pawns.

    • DanRydell says:

      And in doing so you would be allowing News Corp to use you as leverage. Smart.

  6. dreamfish says:

    Writing to Murdoch and appealing to his better nature is sure to work.

  7. kc2idf says:

    A summons needs to be issued to James Dolan and Rupert Murdoch. They are to enter a room, and given these instructions: Settle it. Nobody leaves this room until it is settled. No food, no water, no bio-breaks. God-damned settle it.

    Once that’s done, then we let Dolan out and bring in Charlie Ergen. Murdoch can’t leave the room until he has settled both.

  8. mbd says:

    While I am sure Cablevision is looking to increase their profits, this is one case where our “consumerist” interests and Cablevision’s are in perfect alignment. While Cablevision may not be planning on decreasing our bill due to the lack of FOX, without a doubt, Cablevision will pass along any cost increases to us.

    There is No reason why we (via Cablevision) should be charged for receiving free over the air television. That should be the part of the price broadcasters pay to use our airwaves for their profit.

    • vastrightwing says:

      The problem is at some point, content providers figured out a way to make cable companies pay to deliver their signals to people’s homes, somehow. Now the business model depends on the money from cable companies. They’re not going to give this up without a fight. I long ago stopped paying $80+/mo. to stare at my TV, but many people aren’t willing to change their habits. So the content providers continue to demand money and people pay. I blame the people who continue to pay big money to stare at their TV. But that’s just me.

      • Mythandros says:

        So, how did you contribute to this issue other than stating your own preference?

        I’m not attacking you, I’m just asking how your post has helped move this issue along either intellectually or textually.

        While I appreciate your experience, it’s not very helpful. What can you offer to the conversation to be helpful?

  9. damageddude says:

    I lost any sympathy for Murdoch when he made the original move to block Cablevision subscribers from Hulu. That was just a jerk move.

  10. rdking says:

    id love to see cablevision dump fox news

  11. XxSuntoucherxX says:

    Coming from Nassau county where Cablevision is the only cable game in town, I feel bad for people. Living in Brooklyn now where my particular zip code only has Time Warner, (significantly worse than Cablevision BTW) I have to wonder why competition is even a suggestion? I’m sure somewhere in US people actually have a choice as to how to get extra premium channels, and that must be great for them, however it’s not the case at all in NY. Depending on where you live, you generally have only 1 option. If you live in an apartment, you only have 1 option (generally). That said take the competition argument out of it for a sec.

    Focus on the issue at hand.

    -Fox wants more money, Cablevision doesn’t want to pay.
    -If Cablevision wants to pay, they will increase rates eventually.
    -Fox pulled it’s programming. Hulu followed suit.
    -If someone had a digital converter or a TV capable of receiving digital signals, they would receive Fox for free.

    I fail to see how Cablevision is completely wrong here, that doesn’t make Fox any more right. (No pun intended) With all self imposed power the FCC has, I find real difficult to believe that they cant step in here and make a decision. Incidentally, canceling Cablevision because of a small collection of channels being pulled isn’t a proportionate response. Sports and O’Really (pun intended) aside, there are other things to watch. Besides if you have internet, Google around enough and you’ll find out that even Hulu is irrelevant these days.

  12. vastrightwing says:

    I’m playing both sides of the argument. I hope FOX holds out for more money and I hope CableVision holds out and won’t pay the increase. They both deserve to win.

  13. kriswone says:

    Baseball is worse than Soccer which is just as bad as Golf, Men’s Tennis is less Same Sex Oriented than baseball.

    WHO CARES?

  14. sqlrob says:

    If this stretches into World Series, I’m going to have to buy me a lot of popcorn. This is going to be fun to watch.

    /cable TV free since 2001
    //That includes satellite.

  15. JamesBE says:

    People seem to be forgetting that you can get FOX for free via an antenna.

    • kc2idf says:

      Yep, if the reception is adequate.

      At my home, it is, but I can easily name several family members for whom it is not. Satellite and cable get in where OTA doesn’t sometimes . . . valleys, rural towns, etc.

  16. NotYou007 says:

    It is baseball. Who gives a flying f*ck if the games are shown. Worst sport in the world.

    • ktetch says:

      Nah, Baby Rugby (aka ‘football’) is.

      Lets run for 10 seconds, and stop for 40 while we take a break. Ok we’ve done that 3 times, now we kick it. To kick it we’ll need to change players, for just this 10 seconds, and then we’ll change the whole team for the next little bit…

      It’s ludicrous.

  17. rdking says:

    with the yankees gone an dthe phillies soon to be gone I dont thing cablevision subscribers in Ny or Philly are going to care much

  18. maruawe says:

    Cablevision has chosen to not pay for News Corp programming. The thing is that Cablevision is trying to cut cost as they raise prices to consumers.The same thing happened with Time -warner and ESPN, and with other station owners all along the line. Is cable to big to fail.NO.they are not
    they usually give inferior service for premium pricing. The public should wake up to the commandeering (i deserve it ) attitude of cable companies and some of the cell phone companies who are destroying the way we receive news and information.. What ever happened to customer awareness and service. greed is destroying this country……..

  19. Athena says:

    Screw cable. Go get a Roku. Only $60, one time, and that’s it. Better programming, anyway.

  20. catnapped says:

    As the other poster stated, FOX’s leverage took a hit with how the WS shook out

  21. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    Ya know…it’s not just Cablevision that is having issues with FOX. How about Dish Network and their on going dispute with FOX and MSG. I would just hate to see either one of them (Cablevision or Dish Network) dodge the bullet on this one. Especially seeing how my rates are still the same with Dish Network even though I’m now short several channels.

  22. Fine Material says:

    Fox is making a huge mistake: letting Americans find out they can live without sports!