Cablevision Customers File $450 Million Class-Action Suit Over Fox Blackout

This is what happens when you take Glee away from people — they file an almost half-billion dollar lawsuit against you. Or at least that’s what some Cablevision customers in New York have done as the standoff between the cable company and Fox nears the end of its second week.

This isn’t the first time that Cablevision has faced a class action lawsuit after channels were pulled. Earlier this year, a class action was filed after HGTV and the Food Network were removed from the dial, but the lawsuit went nowhere because Cablevision soon came to an agreement that restored service.

From the Hollywood Reporter:

According to the complaint, plaintiffs want a federal judge to settle several legal questions including whether Cablevision breached its agreements with customers, whether Cablevision has been unjustly enriched, whether Cablevision has engaged in unfair and deceptive and fraudulent practices, and whether “Cablevision should be enjoined from employing its negotiating strategies at the expense of its customers in the future.”

The customers claim Cablevision “played a game of chicken with News Corp. at the expense of Cablevision’s customers” and has deprived them of the Fox channels’ “distinctive viewpoint in the political speech arena” with only days to go before federal elections.

They are also irritated by the “annoying and self-serving loop” that Cablevision is airing in place of Fox and other blacked-out NewsCorp channels.

For its part, Cablevision tells Consumerist:

News Corp. is the company that deserves a lawsuit, for blacking out the World Series in three million New York-area homes. The FCC has all the facts and our customers are demanding that the FCC act to end the FOX blackout.

You can check out the entire complaint here.

Cablevision Customers File $450 million Class Action Lawsuit [Hollywood Reporter]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. homehome says:

    Well, it’s not like they’re going to win, but I guess it’s just to put pressure on them. And if they don’t like the loop, they could just, you know, turn it off.

  2. Tim says:

    I sort of followed it until this: has deprived them of the Fox channels’ “distinctive viewpoint in the political speech arena” with only days to go before federal elections.

    Yeah … no. You do not have the right to watch Fox News because of its political commentary.

    • minjche says:

      Well, they did at least pay a service fee with Fox presumably included in the list of channels they were promised.

      So their reasoning may be politically charged, but they should be getting what they paid for regardless of elections.

      • Tim says:

        Right, I agree with the notion that if they paid for it, they should get it. But they’re obviously trying to make an argument that Cablevision is obstructing a basic tenet of democracy by not giving its customers access to political speech so close to an election. They want their Fox News, so they’re politicizing it.

        By the same token, I could tell Comcast that if they don’t fix my Internet connection soon, they’re depriving me of information that’s important for the upcoming election.

        • minjche says:

          It’s politics, and if it’s as easy as it is for you and I to see the bullshit (not that I agree or disagree with Fox News, I’m speaking about this appeal to democracy) then we can only hope the judge will find it so easy and not consider it in their decision (if the lawsuit even gets that far).

    • humphrmi says:

      …But if you pay for it, you have the right to sue if it’s not delivered.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      Ummm… I’m quite sure that Cablevision is not offering them a discount since they don’t have the News Corp’s channels. So they are paying for something that they are not receiving.

      • Griking says:

        Is Fox itemized on their bill like other pay channels are?

        I don’t think so. So you aren’t paying specifically for Fox which means that there’s nothing to refund.

        If cable were an a la carte service or if Fox was a pay channel then customers would deserve a refund.

        • minjche says:

          Fox wouldn’t be itemized, no, but something like “Basic Channel Package” or a similar wording would be, and somewhere there has to be a piece of paper that lists channels in that package, and if Fox is on there then it’s part of the promised service.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            Excepting that they do not guarantee that carriage of a certain channel will continue.

            They might be sued by a customer signing up *now* if the channel lineup still lists the offending Fox channels, but not an existing customer.

            • minjche says:

              Yeah that would make it messy. I’m going to just have to throw an IANAL out and wait for the results of the trial.

        • humphrmi says:

          So let me get this strait.

          I can sell someone a specific service, and if I choose not to itemize the specific service I promised on the invoice, that customer has to pay for whatever I give him, as long as I call it a “service”? And if he prepaid for that service, he has no recourse in court?

          • Griking says:

            Again, is Fox itemized on your bill with a separate price?

            When Google.com or Amazon.com goes down do you call your ISP for a refund because you can’t access their websites?

            • minjche says:

              I think you’re on weak ground with this. I understand you think every little thing has to be itemized to be billed for, but there still can be something broad (like I said in my other comment, like a “channel package”) that would include Fox.

              Internet access is a different thing from cable service in that you’re paying based on a rate and a connection, so nothing is itemized. With cable service you’re paying for a list of channels.

              Basically by your logic, I could go to Comcast, buy basic cable based on a given list of channels (usually a pamphlet or channel guide), and then when I get home and only one channel is provided I wouldn’t have a claim on them.

    • Hedgy2136 says:

      I hate to burst your Fox News hating bubble, but that channel isn’t blacked out.

      • Tim says:

        False. RTFA.

        • teke367 says:

          I think the article is wrong there, I have Cablevision, and I’m still getting Fox News, at least I did a few days ago the last time I checked. In fact, the only channels I lost was Fox and My9, the networks. I haven’t lost any of their Cable channels (once again, I haven’t checked in a couple days, so it may have changed since the weekend).

          Unless they mean the news on Fox, not Fox News Channel.

          • Tim says:

            If that’s true, then their damages are pretty low. The suit says they lost a ton of channels … all the News Corp. channels, I believe. If they actually only lost two, it’s not nearly as big.

            • teke367 says:

              Yeah, that’s why I was a little surprised when I first read this article, since all that is being taken away is two channels. I actually thought the lawsuit was against Fox was hold the two “free” channels hostage.

              Reading the article though, it lists Fox News with a bunch of programs, “depriving them of Fox News, Glee, House, The Simpsons, New York Giants football, the MLB playoffs, and other content.” So I’m guessing they mean the News on Fox, or perhaps its a poor article. I don’t know if The Hollywood Reporter is a quality site or not.

        • Hedgy2136 says:

          I love this. Not only did I RTFA, I RTFLS. They don’t say “Fox News” anywhere. They do, however, mention “…distinctive viewpoint in the political speech arena…”, so I do understand how you could leap to your conclusion without actually doing what you suggested I did not do.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      They think lack of Fox channel reports and stories and Ads will somehow sway voters to not vote for it’s party. That is silly because only one party watches Fox & Fox news anyways.

      • craptastico says:

        funny that you say that since Fox started as the most liberal network on the air. nobody else would have even played half of the shows that made that channel like Married with Children and the Simpsons and a lot of conservative groups even boycotted their sponsors. now they’re seen as conservative. what a crazy world

        • c!tizen says:

          You can blame that shit on the retarded rantings of Glen “Douche-bag” Beck.

          • HappyFunTimes says:

            Such big words and vitriol for one person. Perhaps you should use that negative energy and direct it towards something positive. I’ll never understand how people can honestly dislike someone for no real, based-on-facts reason.

  3. lawnmowerdeth says:

    Hooray, class action! $2 off your next bill for everyone, 300 million for the lawyers!

  4. Southern says:

    I would think that it would be NewsCorp that is playing a game of chicken, wanting DOUBLE the fee for their programming this year (over what they wanted last year)..

    I would wonder if they doubled their prices for every OTHER provider out there.. Dish Network, DirectTV, Time Warner, Comcast, etc..

    • minjche says:

      It could very well be News Corp who is peeing in the cheerios, but Cablevision’s customers can’t sue News Corp.

      • Southern says:

        I doubt they could sue Cablevision, either.. If they (the customers) don’t like the loss of the FOX channels, they’re always free to simply cancel their service. If there’s a service fee for that, I’m pretty sure that like Cell Phones, this would qualify as a “change in service terms” that would waive any fees that might be associated with terminating service.

        Pretty sure cable companies add/remove channels all the time without getting sued..

        • Gramin says:

          But, being as these are NY customers, I’m betting that several NYC customers do not have the option to switch cable companies. Many highrises have dedicated providers and the tenants can’t choose a different option. I live in a Chicago highrise and I’m stuck with RCN. Nothing I can do to switch.

          • bsh0544 says:

            That’s an issue not limited to NYC buildings. In many places your only options are to put up with what your one provider offers, or cancel your service.

        • minjche says:

          IANAL, but my gut says that if someone paid a monthly fee to Cablevision with the agreement that they’d receive a given list of channels, and in a given month they don’t receive all those channels, that the customer would have a claim against the provider.

          Canceling service is an option, yeah, but it doesn’t address the lost services for this month.

    • kc2idf says:

      I expect so, seeing as most Fox channels are now missing from Dish, and the Fox broadcast affiliates are due to go black on this coming Monday.

      Fortunately, I have an antenna and know how to use it.

      • Southern says:

        Thanks for that tidbit, kc2idf.. It does indeed appear that Fox is also attempting to shake down Dish Network with more than a 50% rate increase over last years rates.

        http://www.dishnetwork.com/news/fox.aspx
        http://www.foxrefused.com/
        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-11/television-blackouts-in-u-s-reach-decade-high-after-fights-over-fees.html

        Apparently (according to that last article), they (Fox) also want to (start) charging for channels that were previously FREE (the broadcast channels), although they’re probably not alone in THAT regard.

        I’m beginning to see Cablevisions (& Dish Networks and AT&Ts) dilemma.. Maybe it IS time to get the FCC involved here and FORCE these content providers into certain concessions, such as A-La-Carte programming, or set fees.. What’s the alternative? That we start paying $200 for our cable bills instead of $100? Or finding alternatives, such as Internet Streaming, etc. (which most non-tech-savvy people won’t know how to do anyway).. I think if NewsCorp pushes this too hard, it may BE time for some consumer protections..

    • Puddy Tat says:

      Fox sucks anyways hopefully they end up on no ones tv sets SOON.

  5. Woodside Park Bob says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Fox was ultimately found to have encouraged the suit to put pressure on Cablevision. The “game of chicken” is ultimately in the interest of Cablevision’s subscribers if it keeps down the amount Cablevision has to pay Fox … and recoup from subscribers in higher cable charges.

  6. Supes says:

    Of course, these same Cablevision customers will also be complaining when their monthly fee goes up $20 a month if Fox gets their way.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Won’t be that much. Even if Cablevision gave News what they wanted (extra $80 million a year), and passed through 100% of the increase to customers, would be about $2 extra a month per customer.

      • Supes says:

        Boo math!

        Fine, $2 a month, but it sets a dangerous precedent. Plus it might be more if they pass the costs only to their cable subscribers (and not to the internet-only subscribers).

        • NeverLetMeDown says:

          Yeah, sorry, math. That math is already based on the number of TV subs they have. Cablevision spends about $33/month per video customer on programming, overall.

      • craptastico says:

        i’m sure once Fox is getting x amount, it’s only a matter of time until NBC/ABC/Etc ask for there’s.

  7. c!tizen says:

    and has deprived them of the Fox channels “distinctive viewpoint in the political speech arena”

    If Cablevision customers want me to blow smoke up their ass in a republican sort of way just let me know… be happy to help .

    • mikedt says:

      Really. If you’re watching Fox news to determine who to vote for then I think it’s safe to assume you’re voting a straight Republican ticket. There, I just saved you countless hours of viewing time.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      We can only hope they’ll go out and learn about the candidates themselves instead of taking what they’re told at face value.

  8. umbriago says:

    “They are also irritated by the “annoying and self-serving loop” that Cablevision is airing in place of Fox and other blacked-out NewsCorp channels.”

    I KNEW IT! Fox News has been transmitting subliminal messages all along, commanding its viewers to never change the channel or turn the TV off.

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Can we please also file a class action lawsuit against NewsCorp?

  10. areaman says:

    That’s a great photo. If I remember correctly it was exactly one year ago today I landed in Dublin. Reminds me to organzie my pictures from that vacation.

  11. Marlin says:

    Anybody think Fox may be helping push this suit?

  12. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    And I thought “I want my MTV” was bad.

  13. Andyb2260 says:

    “Class Action Lawsuit”=Lawyers making Millions while their clients get a coupon.

  14. Grogey says:

    Hello Cablevision customers, because of a lawsuit and having to sign higher fees with fox we are raising your rates.

    • c!tizen says:

      Exactly. If I called the shots for Cablevision I’d take one look at this suit and tell fox, “Ok, you win. Here’s what you asked for plus 10%” Then pass on the cost to the customers.

  15. lefftee says:

    Guy’s:

    A few comments, first where the hell is the FCC in this big picture? We have all been harmed by both parties and I am quite sure that they both have not acted in good faith. Let’s face it they are both multi billionaire companies and they got that way by not being choir boys. Once again the Obama Cabinet could care less for the people. The FCC leader was appointed by O and he just sits there on the sidelines doing nothing. Where is the NFL and MLB in this stance. They have lost the largest market with their sports and they too sit there and do nothing. Let’s face it until the FCC steps in we will all be sitting here with our thum up our a$$ waiting

  16. vastrightwing says:

    This is so sad: people are telling FOX that they’re with them, that it’s OK to demand more money, that they’d rather pay then be without the programming. So sad on many levels. Yes, the execs at FOX were right: customers of CableVision will revolt and demand the content to be put back. Wow. I guess we all know the result of this. FOX wins, all the CableVision subscribers loose who don’t want to watch FOX anyway are going to see their rates jacked up to cover this debacle.

    LOL, WOW!

  17. Griking says:

    The lawsuit is without merit IMO. Nobody is ‘entitled’ to Fox broadcasting and Cablevision isn’t required to carry it. If you aren’t happy with the product that your local cable company offers for the price that they ask then cancel your service and find an alternate source.

  18. aeon65 says:

    The thing that gets me about this whole situation is that FOX is a broadcast station. You do not need cable or satellite to watch it. Just put up an antenna, especially if you are close to NYC. I can pick up FOX with an antenna almost 50 mile away on Ling Island.

  19. majortom1981 says:

    This wont work . You do not have a contract so you can leave when ever you want. They are lucky if this even goes to trial.

  20. Mecharine says:

    They aren’t going to win this. Their contract’s probably stipulate what would happen in these circumstances IE programming may change without notice.

  21. cameronl says:

    Roof-top antenna FTW!
    I refuse to pay to receive commercials.
    (only watching FOX for Simpsons and World Series)
    (and the kids watch Glee).

  22. peebozi says:

    consumers v. publicly traded corporation…in America?

    LOL!!!

  23. frank64 says:

    Playing right into Fox’s hands. Putting the consumers in the middle works wonders. Some customers can’t seem to look beyond one chess move ahead. 2nd chess move: the rates go up. 3rd Chess move: another Network does same thing. 4th chess move: rate go up………

    I think Cablevision should give a discount on whatever they are not paying for the channels now. Some may think it worth it, though I know it won’t add up to much. At least it does away with this issue.

  24. dush says:

    I get FOX for free over the broadcast waves.
    Instead of filing a lawsuit all those millions of Cablevision customers should just cancel their subscriptions.

  25. aloria says:

    Awww, poor wittle baseball fans didn’t get to watch the gaaaaaaame.

    SUCK. IT. UP. Sometimes I don’t get to see my favorite shows, either, but it’s just entertainment, not precious lifesaving insulin. You’ll survive.

  26. kamiikoneko says:

    Pft “distinctive viewpoint in the political speech arena”.

    If by distinctive you mean rashly biased, completely uneducated, and embarassing as sh!t. Too bad about the playoffs though.

  27. jdmba says:

    Anyone wanna bet if fox is backing this and actually be the one handling the arrangements (under a named plaintiff, of course).

  28. Macgyver says:

    Why the hell does everyone want’s to sue as soon as something doesn’t go their way.
    You don’t like it, get a damn antenna or move to satellite. Cablevision ain’t forcing you to stay with them.
    This has nothing to do with Cablevision, this is all Newcorp fault. They’re the ones that are asking for more then double of what they were getting last year. They are the one’s who are being unfair. They are the one’s that don’t want to negotiate.

  29. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Oh please, “distinctive” viewpoint my ass.

    If anything, it will force them to go out and make their own opinions instead of hearing it from the media shills. I am so fed up with how the media controls elections in this country. For THIS reason, its good that Fox is off the air.

    Otherwise, it is a stupid game of chicken all over money. Dumb on all fronts.

  30. PunctuationMark says:

    Yeah, let’s pressure Cablevision to accept a much, much higher premium from Fox, and then get MORE outraged when our cable bills go up to compensate!

  31. common_sense84 says:

    How are they not suing News Corp? Cablevision can’t do anything. News Corp has decided to bundle all their stations together thus making it impossible for cablevision to pay for the broadcast channels by themselves.

  32. amuro98 says:

    I’m wondering about a few things.
    1: I thought this only affected cable stations FOX News, FOX Sports, etc, and NOT the local affiliates. Aren’t cable stations required by law to carry local broadcast stations? Wouldn’t that mean that by dropping the local FOX affiliate, Cablevision is breaking the law?

    2: Isn’t Cablevision breaking their contract with all their customers who are paying for a channel package that included those channels? Seems to me a partial refund is in order, at least.

    3: Aren’t the local cities responsible for granting the cable companies their monopoly? I know in CA you can go to your city hall and file a complaint against The Cable Company and cities have kicked out The Cable Company when receiving too many complaints. Of course, considering there are only 2 or 3 The Cable Company’s left, I’m not really sure what this would accomplish.

  33. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    What about Dish Network and not having FOX or MSG channels for this very same reason that Cablevision claims.

    Seems like Dish Network is hiding while Cablevision takes all the heat…to me…they both suck chunks…but lets put Dish Network back on the fire so they can burn along with Cablevision.

  34. TehLlama says:

    Why hasn’t CableVision offered a discount to their subscribers for now since they’re offering less service? Crickets? That’s what I thought – all parties are purely self-interested, so blaming NewsCorp hardly is the complete answer, but good try retards.

    Somebody will win… and it’s a Lawyer. Congratulations you stupid New Yorkers.

  35. ThunderRoad says:

    Cablevision should just announce they will no longer carry fox. Period. And then let anyone that wants to cancel service and go back to antennas without any ETFs.

    I bet most of the people that cancel cable service would be back in a few months and the actual impact would be less than 1% loss of subscribers (where else can they go besides satellite). Fox, on the other hand, would be kicked squarely in the nuts and come pleading with Cablevision to carry their networks again once the stockholders revolt at the loss of a 3M person market.

    Instead of crying to the FCC, Cablevision should just make a business decision and call it a day.

  36. NydiaGeben says:

    I never knew having cable TV was a constitutional right. Interesting.

  37. DENelson83 says:

    Class action lawsuits don’t work. Only the lawyers get all the money.

  38. arizonaadam says:

    Kill your television

  39. soj4life says:

    The problem is that neither the cable provider or the content provider want to disclose what the carriage charges are and how much the increase will be per customer. These disputes are why we need a la carte pricing.