Cablevision VP Blasts Fox Blackout As "Shameful"

Many people had predicted — or at least hoped — that the fee squabble that led to Fox’s Friday night decision to pull its local NYC and Philadelphia affiliates from Cablevision subscribers would have been sorted out in time for folks to enjoy Sunday afternoon football. Alas, that didn’t happen and hordes of Giants and Eagles fans were scrambling for antennas.

And the situation wasn’t resolved in time for last night’s NLCS Game 2 between my beloved Phillies and those other Giants from some city on the west coast.

Meanwhile, Cablevision’s Executive VP of Communications sent Consumerist the following statement, making it clear where the cable provider stands on this whole mess:

The longer this shameful News Corp. blackout of the NFL and Major League Baseball continues, the more obvious it becomes to everyone, including political leaders of both parties, that binding arbitration is the fastest and fairest way to return Fox programming to Cablevision customers.

Yankee fans have so far been spared the blackouts since the ALCS games are being broadcast on TBS. But if this Fox blackout — and the Yankees — continue on into the World Series, the public outcry to resolve the pissing match will grow significantly louder, since most of Cablevision’s customers are in the NYC metro area.


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  1. bball123h says:

    that binding arbitration is the fastest and fairest way

    Looks like I support Fox on this one, even if it makes me feel dirty.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      It’s a trick. Arbitration is perhaps the fastest way to resolve THIS argument, but not the way to resolve the continuing battle between content providers and service providers.

      • alstein says:

        MBA between corporations of equal standing isn’t the kangaroo court that it would be corporation vs consumers.

        Two unrelated issues to me.

    • DanRydell says:

      You’re saying this because of the Consumerist mantra that binding arbitration is bad. Binding arbitration is NOT inherently bad, and I don’t think the Consumerist has ever claimed it was.

      Binding arbitration is a great way to handle disputes; it’s used all the time, even by individuals. What is bad is when a person is forced to accept binding arbitration as the only method to resolve disputes which haven’t even occurred yet, and the arbitrator is selected by and paid by ONE party to the dispute.

  2. TuxthePenguin says:

    I hate to break it to you, Cablevision VP, but negotiations are between two different parties. If you think this is so shameful, look at your own party at the negotiating table. You could end this tomorrow by simply assenting to their demands.

    Granted, might not be the best idea in the long run, but you’re just as culpable in this as News Corp.

    • Tim says:

      Right, and by the very same token, News Corp. could simply assent to Cablevision’s demands.

      I must admit that I’m not familiar with what each side’s demands are, so I can’t really say who’s right.

      • DanRydell says:

        Fox wants more money (allegedly double what they’re getting now). Cablevision doesn’t want to pay more money.

        • mbd says:

          Cablevision does not us, their viewers to pay more money. We all know Cablevision will pass any cost increases on to us, so in this rare case, their interests and ours are in agreement.

  3. dork says:

    So, blackouts imposed by Fox are shameful, while blackouts imposed by MLB and the NFL are OK?

    • digital0verdose says:

      I don’t think anyone is agreeing that league blackouts are OK.

      Personally any sort of blackout is BS. If the managers can’t figure out how to make stadium life more appealing to consumers, there is no reason to punish the consumer. Find new managers with new ideas. This type of BS is akin to cell-phone contracts in that if the service provided were adequate, such measures would not be necessary.

    • Gulliver says:

      MLB and the NFl have every reason to blackout their service. If a game is not sold out in a market, broadcasting it for free is not in their best interest. This is denying people who have no ability to go to the actual event (because it is sold out) from seeing it. Two different issues altogether. If Cablevision and Comcast etc all say, NO, we will not pay you, and we will take your stations off our service, FOX will be out of business. I’d tell Fox to go away, and see how long they last without an agreement. Remembeer, Fox makes money off ratings, and when you lower the pool of potential (and Philly and New York are large markets) viewers, the ratings logically must decline. That means lower ad revenues, which means uh oh, can nt afford Bill Oreilly etc anymore. On second thought, I am liking this more and more.

      • Sneeje says:

        “broadcasting it for free is not in their best interest”

        a) it is not completely free, perhaps to individual viewers it is
        b) it is only not in their best interest if you only value $ for every single viewing.

        By broadcasting (as opposed to blacking out) you reach not only the customers who might have paid (minority), but also the customers who would absolutely NOT have paid (majority). You now have the opportunity to offer them reasons to pay in the future, as opposed to pissing them off, which is exactly what blackouts do.

        I would assert that the revenue lost from not reaching these customers (and also pissing them off) far outweighs the revenue gained (if any) by blacking out.

  4. MikeB says:

    I think the fact that News Corp blocked Hulu and access for Cablevision internet users is a bit more troubling than blacking out channel access.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      That’s nothing. Have you seen the internet blacklist that’s going through the Judiciary committee without as much of a peep?

    • frank64 says:

      They did WHAT? The blocked Hulu and from peoples internet? That is ridiculous. If that is true they have no leg to stand on.

      I am glad I have Verizon DSL, there is no reason for them to be upset if I stream. If cable co’s can do it for this, they can do it when more people start defecting. I hope they are going to get extreme backlash for this.

      On just the blackout issue alone, Cablevision is accidentally on the side of the consumer on this. Fox wins and the cable bill goes up. Funny they are losing revenue because they have 2.5% less viewers for advertisers. This is why I think for stations that carry advertising they should allow cable co’s free access. In this way cable is just a antenna service. I guess the market has moved beyond that model though.

    • Joe-TFW says:

      100% agreed on this. This should not be allowed under any circumstances and sets an awful precedent if allowed to continue.

  5. houstonspace says:

    I think all the broadcasters (Time Warner, Cablevision, Comcast, Hulu, etc) should basically gang-up on Fox and tell them who’s boss.

    • anarkie says:

      Yea, After all, Comcast and Time Warner who currently still offer Fox networks really want to help their competition who doesn’t want to pay as much as they are paying. Makes perfect sense.

    • alstein says:

      a) illegal under anti-trust law

      b) Fox staggers the contracts so it would be hard to do.

  6. tedyc03 says:

    I’m standing with Cablevision on this one. The networks are free over the air, but subscribers should pay more to get them through a wire? Bullshit.

    Consumerist missed something here too, by not pointing out that Hulu users are blocked from Fox content if they’re on Cablevision internet. WTF is that?

    • frank64 says:

      It is bigger than the blackout. The blackout sucks, but is a normal negotiation between two companies. The blocking of specific internet traffic is much, much more. There should be much more outrage on this.

      • DanRydell says:


        • frank64 says:

          I read the issue wrong on this. Sorry.

          I guess Fox has a right to do it. It is kind of scummy though. Doesn’t seem to be any upside for them.

          IF Fox values the carriage fees, why don’t they take themselves off of Hulu completely?

  7. JoeS says:

    What do you expect from Fox? Fair and unbiased treatment? Sure, you paid for your cable, but you can’t expect perfection!

  8. ScottFromNY says:

    I received an email from Cablevision pooh-poohing Fox and claiming that they’re subjected to unfair increases. The odd thing is that, not only do I subscribe to Time Warner (and have done so for several months now without actually having cable anymore), but I made damn sure that I unsubscribed to all of Cablevision’s newsletters and email blast lists. In essence, Cablevision voided all of that to tell me about a squabble I’m not a part of.

    Fun times.

  9. Macgyver says:

    This is all News Corp fault.
    Why should News Corp be getting how much they asking for?
    Cablevision shouldn’t give into they demands, if they do, then these other content providers are gonna see them as weak, and they will be pulling the same shit.
    Cablevision needs to stand there ground and don’t give in.

    • craptastico says:

      as much as i’ve always hated Cablevision, i do hope the stand their ground. the amount of money Fox wants is absurd. in the meantime i’ll be glad i have Verizon FIOS

  10. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Like baseball players vs owners it’s just 2 rich guys fighting each other for their share of the pie. Content providers like FOX are losing ad revenue and want to make it up with a bigger share of cable TV’s subscription revenue. Nobody is the good guy or the bad guy and nobody cares about YOU. YOU are just a tool to be manipulated to help achieve financial goals.

    • Cicadymn says:

      But but but! Fox is evil! They have Fox news! They’re evil! No one else, everyone else it out for my best interests! But not Fox! They’re so evil and bad!

    • vastrightwing says:

      I’m rooting for both sides!

      I hope Fox won’t give in to Cable vision and I also hope Cablevision won’t give in to FOX!

      How about that?

  11. vizsladog says:

    Looks like Cablevision is getting a rough lesson in why is is important for a carrier to own content. Fox has every right to charge what it likes for its content, and Cablevision has to decide whether the pain of dealing eith the high fees is greater than the pain of not haing the content.

    Insighting politicians to help is shameful behavior. It is not the government’s responsibility to insure that every sports fan can see a game at home; it is Cablevision’s responsibility to make a decision and stick to it.

  12. jsl4980 says:

    Aww poor cable provider with a monopoly isn’t getting their way I feel so bad for them. They should realize that no matter how high they jack their prices their customers still have no where else to go.

  13. Straspey says:

    A couple of years ago – when they were warning everybody about the elimination of the over-the-air “analogue” television signal – I got one of those government coupons and used it to purchase a DTV converter box.

    We have a small 13-inch CRT TV set in our kitchen, which we only use to watch the local news while having breakfast in the morning, so I never had a reason to pay for an additional cable hook-up to that set.

    Along with a standard “rabbit-ear” antenna, the DVR box provides clear audio and video and, as a result, I was able to sit withinn arms-reach from my refrigerator on Sunday as I watched the NY Giants game – as well as the Cowboys/Vikings and the Nat’l League Baseball game – even while the other two sets in my home were blacked out as a result of this dispute.

    Also – can anybody tell my why FOX NEWS is still available ?

    Ya know – if Cablevision really wanted to play hardball, they could drop that channel as well and tell FOX to go F*** themselves.

    • Straspey says:

      I meant “DTV” box – not DVR.

      Also – Chris, if you are reading these comments today, I posted an apology to you for the snarky and rude comments I made to you regarding your first piece on this issue a couple of days ago.

    • crb042 says:

      I’m guessing Fox News is still available because there’s a different agreement in place and that Cablevision has no basis for blocking it right now. News Corp pulled the channels after the agreement expired and they didn’t want to leave them on the air (ie: helping their end users) while negotiating the new price. Fox News probably wasn’t a part of the deal that ended.
      Now why can’t the cable company just not bother broadcasting Fox News even if they’ve paid for it? Messing with the network’s content is probably a Bad Idea, if not outright forbidden in the licensing deal (imagine if they could suddenly play local commercials over national broadcasts).
      I’d bet you have a point, though, and I wonder if whatever the outcome with these two channels Cablevision will try to break even when Fox News comes up for renewal. I’m sure News Corp is even more interested in that network, since it fuels their political connections.

  14. Beave says:

    I might feel bad for Cablevision, but everything I’ve read says that Fox isn’t asking for fees from them that are any different from what they charge other cable providers. This isn’t Fox trying to screw over one cable company, it’s one cable company saying that now their contract with Fox is up they don’t want to pay what all of the other cable companies have already agreed is far.

    • Gulliver says:

      Why should cablevision be forced to pay what otheers pay. They are saying we don’t want your programming at that price., If Comcast is willing to pay it, that is their issue, We won’t. End of story.

    • MaarekElets says:

      I don’t think other companies have agreed…. Dish Network is going through the same exact thing right now. NewsCorp is asking for twice what they got last year for the exact same programming and these companies are saying no. They will likely hear from some customers, but they would hear from a lot more when they have to jack rates up to compensate for the price increase.

  15. shell_beach says:

    Under any other circumstance I would prob never defend FOX for anything. BUT from personal experience dealing with cablevision’s horrible HD service and brain dead technicians I really cant blame FOX on this one.

    And for people with cablevision in an area where FIOS is available, i have to ask WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU STILL DOING WITH CABLEVISION!

    no contracts with cablevision so get the hell out now!

  16. AllanG54 says:

    I have Optimum internet and phone in my office (no TV) and I get Hulu just fine.

    • DarthCoven says:

      Can you watch FOX shows on Hulu? Accessing the broader website isn’t an issue. It is just the FOX programming in question.

  17. DanRydell says:

    Cablevision has no business criticizing Fox, because they’re just as bad. It took a lawsuit to get Cablevision to let Verizon carry MSG, and FiOS customers still can’t get MSG-HD.

  18. anarkie says:

    “Political leaders”???? Really? You want our government who has more important things not to do (like deal with an ongoing war, and address dwindling job markets) to weigh in on people’s TV habits. Really? I can imagine the new ads now…”My opponent supports Fox. I will do everything I can to get your TV back to how it should be… I endorse this crap”

  19. Spook Man says:

    Do they really make that much money for the licensing fees? You’d think advertising would be their bread and butter..

    Business 101 now-a-days.. To make your profit look better to the stock holders (that and the board members all that matter now), keep raising prices, offer less service and pound your chest because of how well your business is doing.. When this doesn’t work, layoff some workers, profits will rise and then pay your CEO’s boo-koo bonuses because they deserve it..

  20. mbd says:

    Speaking as a Cablevision customer, I have to agree with them on this. Ultimately, FOX is forcing this cost increase on all of us, as we know that Cablevision will not eat the increase.

    There is no reason for us to pay for fox to be on cable. It increases their viewership and their advertising revenue. Screw arbitration, the FCC and/or congress needs to change the law so that over the air content providers can not charge for the retransmission of their signal in their broadcast area, and cable companies can not charge for these channels beyond basic infrastructure support costs.

    I find it strange and irresponsible that most journalists are not picking on DISH Network for dropping FOX over the price increase, and making this into a Cablevision VS Fox issue.rather than a FOX vs everybody else issue.

    > beloved Phillies

    The Phillies are not beloved. They are pond scum. I am looking forward to a Yankees/Phillies rematch, so that we can rub their noses in the mud again.

    • blogger X says:

      Yeah if it wasn’t for Texas choking they’d be down 0-2 potenially 0-3 after tonight. Yankees pitching is utterly pathetic! CC sucks, AJ is crap, and Huges is a fraud.

  21. vastrightwing says:

    I hope both sides hold fast to their ground!

  22. winnabago says:

    The channels are really taking a risk here. There is nothing that guarantees that every network has to be provided to every subscriber. Playing hardball could put them in a situation where we don’t think of the formerlly basic broadcast channels as “basic”, or Fox could easily lose their membership in this club around NYC. It is a different story for boutique channels like HGTV and Food to stand their ground, because they actually have something to gain. Fox does not.

  23. Brainphart says:

    Cablevision should agree to NewsCorp price increase then put the affected channels on a premium “NewsCorp tier with a caveat explaining the why.

  24. PsiCop says:

    Need I point out that Cablevision is exactly one-half to blame for this blackout? As the cliche goes, “It takes two to tango.”

    Instead of whining that the other side in this debacle is “shameful,” perhaps it’s time for this executive to get back to doing his job. Which, if it had been properly done and had been handled by mature adults, would have been to prevent this from having happened in the first place.

    Wah wah wah. Crybaby.

  25. nallanos says:

    uverse just lost hgtv and foodnetwork; fat people and moms are pissed!

  26. davidsco says:

    Fox is a bunch of greedy SOB’s. They should be PAYING Cablevision to broadcast their networks. Much as I HATE the cable companies, without them, nobody’s watching the networks Ads. DUH! Greed begats greed in corporate America. And, of course, the viewer loses. Wonder if they’re getting a discount for the lost programming. Doubt it

  27. jsn says:

    Frankly? I hope Fox NEVER comes back to Cablevision. I APPLAUD Cablevision for just saying no. In fact, I’d switch providers if they made it a policy to NOT carry ANY Fox properties. I might even pay MORE if they didn’t carry Fox.