No Resolution In Cablevision/Fox Fracas With Only Hours To Go To World Series Start

The World Series begins tonight on Fox, but it looks like 3 million Cablevision subscribers will have to resort to finding an antenna or watching elsewhere as the thumb-wrestling match between the cable provider and NewsCorp drags on without resolution.

In a statement sent to Consumerist, Charles Schueler, Cablevision’s executive vice president of communications, writes:

Cablevision has and will continue to negotiate in good faith. We are trying to reach a deal that is fair for everyone, including our customers, but there has been absolutely no movement by Fox in their attempts to gain massive fee increases from Cablevision customers to carry broadcast signals that are free over the air.

The FCC is the government agency charged with protecting television consumers and oversight of broadcast licenses. We do not understand how protecting and interceding on behalf of TV viewers in 3 million blacked out households in the Northeastern United States does not fall under the FCC’s purview. The FCC has the facts and our customers are demanding that the FCC act.

Given that Cablevision’s area of coverage ranges from Connecticut to Pennsylvania — and that both the New York Yankees nor the Philadelphia Phillies (sigh) were eliminated in the League Championship Series — who has more leverage as the World Series begins: Fox or Cablevision?

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  1. dolemite says:

    What sucks is…the cable co will likely cave, pay more $, and then raise rates, even on people that don’t give a crap about baseball.

  2. Alvis says:

    Yeah, that would suck if they had to use an antenna to get a free broadcast with better picture quality than cable.

    • SonarTech52 says:

      For people in big cities maybe, in smaller towns you NEED cable to get a decent picture.

      • jason in boston says:

        My parent’s live 45 miles west of the tv towers in Boston. I bought them a $20 antenna (the cheapo Philips one from walmart). They get over the air just fine. I programmed their TV so that the over the air channel is displayed (less compressed then cable can ever hope for) because overcrompression makes the picture look like garbage.

        You see, with digital the signal is there or it isn’t. If you would have said “smaller town NEED cable to get a picture at all” I would agree with you.

        • kc2idf says:

          Yeah, and my mother lives in a bottom-floor apartment in Rotterdam Junction, NY. This is less than 5 miles from the nearest city with TV stations (Schenectady) and less than ten miles from the next-nearest city with TV stations (Amsterdam). She gets zip, zero, nothing, nada. The very same receiver and TV gets 22 channels at my house in Schenectady, including the ones from Amsterdam.

          Sometimes, the fact is, quite simply, that you are, very literally, in a hole. When this happens, OTA broadcasts (with the frequent exception of AM radio) just flat-out don’t happen.

          • keepntabs says:

            It is possible to put an outdoor antenna at the other end of the coaxial cable that connects to your mother’s TV; that’s what we did. I know you said your mother lives in an apartment, but it is against the law for an apartment building to forbid tenants from putting up external antennas. We bought one that came with an electronic rotator for $60 online, because some of the TV towers are far apart in my area. When the signal seems to be weak, we just use the rotator’s remote that will turn the antenna ever so slightly until the signal is regained.

            I agree that the picture quality of OTA digital channels are much better than what is available on any cable service, and except for the cost of the antenna (and converter box, if needed), watching OTA television is free. There are over 45 channels available in my area, and I get about 33 of them; which is fine, because they include all of the major networks.

          • jason in boston says:

            Set up an external antenna (even maybe just outside a window or something) like keepntabs suggests? If she literally lives in a hole underground then there isn’t much she could ever do for over the air. It is the nature of being underground.

            • kc2idf says:

              In all seriousness, I appreciate the effort, but you guys don’t get it.

              She is completely surrounded by hills. Getting an antenna up high enough in the air to get it out of the shadow would require a tower with aircraft lights. The whole village is that way. She can sometimes get a hint of channel 55 (Amsterdam) propagating along the Mohawk Valley, but that’s it.

              BTW, I build antennas as a hobby.

    • DarthCoven says:

      My basement apartment gets *great* OTA reception

      yes you can read that dripping with sarcasm

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Maybe if they used an antenna, they would realize how much money they’ve been wasting paying a cable company to watch what they can watch for free.

  4. osiris73 says:

    Wow… two of the worst companies ever having a pissing contest over something as boring as baseball. I can’t even begin to care.

    • esrever says:

      And yet you managed to bring yourself to comment on a story that, by all accounts, shouldn’t be even remotely interesting to you. Thanks for adding your voice to the discussion.

      • tbax929 says:

        He’s an assclown who makes a negative comment about baseball every time it’s mentioned. I just love when people think because they dislike something everyone else should as well.

        Personally, I like baseball a lot, but I can’t get myself excited over the Giants/Rangers world series, so I’ll only watch if I’m home.

  5. Straspey says:

    I own a DTV Converter Box.

    It works – along with a simple indoor “Rabbit Eras” antenna, I get a very clear transmission of both FOX 5 and “MY9″ stations and have not missed a single game.

    Here is a link to a Consumer Reports article from March, 2009 which explains where you get easily purchase one of the reliable brands, which cost between $45 – $80.

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/electronics-computers/tvs-services/digital-tv-converter/overview/dtv-converter-box-guide.htm

    Please remember that the government coupon giveaway has long-since expired and the only way to acquire one of these things now is directly from a retailer.

    Mine is small and unobtrusive and works fine. It will take you no more than thirty minutes from out of the box to full operation – and you will be able to watch tonight’s world series game in the good old fashioned way – via free, over-the-air tv signal.

    • frank64 says:

      That box is only needed with old style TV’s. The new ones just need an antenna. I have a flat multi-directional antenna that works great. It sits on my TV and is unobtrusive. I am around 40 miles from Boston and have never had cable here.

      For some reason Fox doesn’t feel the need to charge me for watching their shows, although they have to go through the expense of transmitting it too me. With cable, the cable co has to go through the expense. They are providing Fox a service, and yet Fox want money for it.

    • JoeDawson says:

      I long for the “RABBIT ERAS” when our Rabbit overlords will descend to lead us to freedom.

      • Straspey says:

        Yeah, well…

        Maybe part of that freedom will be to open the long-lost secrets of the shadowy realm known as the “EDIT OPTION”…

  6. Jonesey says:

    Cancel your cable, and get MLB.TV post season. I think it’s like $20 bucks? Or go to a bar. Vote with your wallet

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      This is cutting off the nose to spite the face. This is a dispute that will end – eventually. If the postseason is that important to you, then paying that ETF, returning all of your cable stuff, and getting cable again once the World Series is over means your priorities are out of order.

      Just go to a bar that doesn’t use Cablevision!

  7. schiff says:

    For god sakes its broadcast TV. Get some rabbit ears and quit complaining.

    • kc2idf says:

      Great if you are where it works. I am, but I can easily think of four households of friends and family members where this option is no good.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        Invite them over for dinner! :)

        • kc2idf says:

          Friends, sure. Some family, okay, once in a while.

          But for the most part, if I invite them over, we’re not going to be watching TV; we’re going to be socializing.

          For two houses, they have TW Cable who aren’t in this particular pissing match.

          For the other two, they have Dish (too far into the boonies for cable) and so they are going to lose Fox 23 Albany in about a week. We’ll see what happens then.

          But . . . I’ve also been known to kick up my DVR for them if they’re going to miss something on broadcast TV, and hand them off a DVD at some later date.

  8. Floppywesl says:

    Someone should just stream it to Justin.tv Live

  9. axiomatic says:

    The real stories here are that no matter what the consumer loses and that its obvious the FCC is squarely in the pocket of big business.

  10. apd09 says:

    I don’t get why this big bruhaha is over Baseball, if I was a resident there I would more angry about no House, Hells Kitchen, Family Guy or The Simpsons.

    Don’t make it just about baseball, Consumerist, I bet more people in that area watcht those other shows than would tune in for the baseball games anyway. Yes I know most of them are on hiatus while the World Series plays out but the issue is not going to go away when the Series ends if Fox is not carried.

    • teke367 says:

      I’m in an affected area (which kind of sounds like a zombie outbreak), and the reason I’m more concerned with baseball is, next week the game isn’t going to be as interesting. I can watch House when they rerun the episode, or watch on Hulu.

      That being said, they better have this sorted out when Fringe comes back.

  11. teke367 says:

    I don’t see how FOX has any leverage. Perhaps there will be less pressure on them to accept the binding arbitration since the local teams didn’t make the World Series and the story won’t be as big as it would have.

    But other than that, I imagine FOX will start taking a hit in advertising, even in Cablevision isn’t as large as Comcast, but 3 million less viewers should affect rates a little bit.

    What it comes down to for me, its much easier for me to watch Fox programming through other avenues like Hulu than it would be for me to switch carriers. I like the no contracts on Cablevision, and FOX isn’t worth it for me to pay an installation fee and sign up with a two year contract with Direct TV.

  12. winnabago says:

    The FCC is an unrelated party here. While many broadcasters also serve cable and satellite providers, the fed has no jurisdiction over cable signals (apart from antitrust issues) as the system currently is structured. They should stay out of the mess, IMHO, and Cablevision should stop being so melodramatic and pandering.

    When these fights started going public over the last few years, it has created a hostile relationship, not between either party and the public, but between the public and the whole system. Shooting themselves in the foot.

  13. jason in boston says:

    Buy a $20 antenna? Be happy that you are getting an almost uncompressed picture?

    • Wriz says:

      Nearly uncompressed? I can understand that, for most people, all they care about are compression artifacts in their video stream (or lack thereof). However, to say that an over-the-air broadcast is nearly uncompressed is far from accurate.

      A raw, uncompressed 1080i60 video stream is around 995 Mbps. Each channel in a DTV broadcast is limited to 19.39 Mbps. That means that an uncompressed 1080i stream is more than 50 times the data rate of a single DTV channel. Also, keep in mind that this is for video only. These numbers do not take into account audio streams, overhead, sub-channels, and other things that get squeezed into a single DTV channel.

      The H.264 specification is an amazing piece of work. It allows very good quality at relatively low bitrates (compared to uncompressed). But it is FAR from uncompressed.

      Uncompressed 1080i Video Stream Parameters used in calculations:
      Resolution: 1920×1080
      Frame Rate: 30 frames per sec (60 fields per sec, interlaced)
      Bit Depth: 8-bits per channel
      Sub-Sampling: YUV 4:2:2

      Sources:
      OTA Bitrate: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/dtv3.htm
      Birate and video parameters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATSC_Standards
      Uncompressed bitrate http://web.forret.com/tools/video_fps.asp?width=1920&height=1080&fps=60&interlace=on&space=yuv422&depth=8

      • jason in boston says:

        Great writeup – but for the purpose of my comment – almost uncompressed as compared to what you get from cable / sat / FIOS (I have had FIOS, on large screens the artifacts are indeed noticeable).

        I understand that the tower is compressed, but the source is further compressed when it hits the service provider even more.

  14. Macgyver says:

    The FCC should just mandate that if content providers broadcast their signal freely OTA, they can’t charge cable or satellite companies to carry their signal.

    • IThinkThereforeIAm says:

      How about the must-carry rule?

      “A side effect of the must-carry rules is that broadcast networks cannot charge the cable-TV companies license fees for the program content retransmitted on the cable network, except potentially as a part of retransmission consent agreements in lieu of must-carry.”

      (form http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Must-carry)

      • kc2idf says:

        Right, but the must-carry rule has to be invoked by the broadcaster. The broadcaster may choose to be must-carried or pay-for-carried. If they choose to be must-carried, then they can’t charge, but if their programming is popular enough (as Fox’s is), then they will choose pay-for-carry because the cable companies will willingly pay . . . until they hit this kind of stalemate. Also, pay-for-carry gives the TV station owner leverage in the event that a negotiation like this gets stalled.

        So, in a nutshell, the must-carry rule would have to be amended in order for it to matter here.

  15. RxDude says:

    Who do I have to pay to keep baseball off my TV permanently?

    • tbax929 says:

      You can ask the person who apparently puts a gun to your head and forces you to watch it; and that’s free.

      • RxDude says:

        The issue is not my TV being tuned to baseball. Keep it off the program guide, get rid of promos, and keep announcers/commentators for other sports from wasting time talking about baseball.

        Now that I think about it, I’d like the same for Nascar and golf.

  16. Blueskylaw says:

    This is a great situation. People will finally see that the customer that keeps these entities in business is just a sponge to be squeezed as hard as possible to get the most money out of them with no regard for anything else.

    Welcome to the real world anonymous revenue enhancer.

  17. catnapped says:

    Like the intro said I can’t see why anyone in NY would really care about the Giants vs Rangers anyway.

    • lxa1023 says:

      So that they can scout future Yankees.

      • tbax929 says:

        +1

        If there’s any talent, you can guarantee the Yankees will pay a shitload of money and have them on their squad within a year or two.

        Also, the Giants used to be the NY Giants, and I’m willing to bet there are still a few Giants fans in NY. Hell, we still have A’s fans in Philadelphia.

        • DarthCoven says:

          Yes, there are still plenty of old timer Giants fans here in NYC, just as there are still plenty of Dodgers fans.

  18. MerlynNY says:

    If I were Cablevision I would drop FOX like a bad habit and see how long it takes for them to come crawling back. It sure beats caving in and paying some insane fee for what is free TV.

  19. rdking says:

    if i were cablevision id offer to but my customers a free digital antenna. and then tell fox to go to hell. then id drop the fox news channels as well

    • DarthCoven says:

      This. I’d be sure to stay within Cablevision’s coverage area permanently if they pulled a stunt like this and just stuck it to News Corp.

  20. vastrightwing says:

    Come on CableVision, don’t let your subscribers down! FOX, you deserve more money, don’t cave in to CableVision! I want a win win here! Don’t stop negotiating… ever!

  21. Steve H. says:

    I love that everyone here is suggesting to get an antenna, which while I’ll admit is a wonderful thing (I have no cable and only get OTA channels), it’s also not an option in some areas. People who live in apartments and/or in hilly areas can have a difficult time with OTA.