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Fox TV-pocalypse ended at Cablevision, averted at Dish Network

By Rob Pegoraro

Cablevision and Dish Network subscribers can stop worrying about missing the end of the World Series: Over the weekend, the two TV services settled separate carriage disputes with Fox Networks that ended one standoff and avoided another.


Dish struck a deal on Friday afternoon that keeps Fox's local channels on its satellite service and restores the other Fox fare--FX, National Geographic Channel and its regional sports networks--that the Los Angeles network had yanked Oct. 1.

Neither Englewood, Colo.-based Dish's "Fox Is Back" announcement nor the press release jointly issued by the two companies provides financial details, although the latter document describes the deal as a "long term agreement."

Then, on Saturday evening, Cablevision restored Fox's local stations--WNYW and WWOR in New York and WTXF in Philadelphia--as well as Fox Business Network, National Geographic Wild and Fox Deportes.

The Bethpage, N.Y., company still sounds hacked off about the situation, to judge from a statement e-mailed by spokesman Jim Maiella:

In the absence of any meaningful action from the FCC, Cablevision has agreed to pay Fox an unfair price for multiple channels of its programming including many in which our customers have little or no interest [....] In the end, our customers will pay more than they should for Fox programming, but less than they would have if we had accepted the unprecedented rates News Corp. was demanding when they pulled their channels off Cablevision.

(Note that Cablevision's previous, rejected offer to Fox was to pay the same rate as Time Warner Cable for only WNYW and WTXF--not all the other Fox channels at stake.)

Shockingly enough, Fox's brief press release offers a different spin. It only calls this deal "an agreement in principle," which sounds a lot less secure than its "long term agreement" with Dish.

(12:26 p.m. My colleague Cecilia Kang also posted on this news earlier this morning, noting regulatory and legal issues that left the Federal Communications Commission to do little more than urge the squabbling companies to play nice with each other for a change.)

Cablevision customers, do you think we've seen the last of this conflict? Dish subscribers, what's your guess about what Friday's deal will do to your rates? And everybody else who watches TV: What conclusions do you think these companies have drawn from their experience? What lessons have you learned?

By Rob Pegoraro  | November 1, 2010; 7:29 AM ET
Categories:  Policy and politics, TV, Video  
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Unfortunately, I don't think there's a snowball's chance in hell we've seen the last of the Fox-Cablevision, or really, Cablevision vs. any other network debacle. The big issue surrounding all of this, at least from a consumer's perspective, is how utterly non-transparent both sides were throughout the standoff. I doubt most Cablevision customers realize that the company labeled the agreement "an unfair price." Similarly, few customers, I'm sure, realize that Fox feel this deal is only an "agreement in principle."

What this ultimately comes down to is typically poor PR from two companies hell-bent on reaping the most profits from customers, knowing full well that in despite the numerous technologies at our disposal, many of us have few options available when it comes to our cable packages.

I give this agreement a year before it breaks down again. I hope I'm wrong ...


Posted by: ktrivitt | November 1, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Rupert is pretty good at pushing around the little guys. I can't wait to see what happens when the carpetbagger bully Murdoch comes up against the 800 pound gorilla Comcast.

Posted by: hodgensr | November 1, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

America as a whole would be better off if anything to do with Murdoch was permanently removed from any chance of being broadcast anywhere. With the exception of people that watch sports, which I do myself, I find it hard to believe that the major sports agreements with Faux would allow the broadcasting of events contracted by Faux to cease. Surely with all the lawyers involved in anything of this magnitude/money would have a provision stating that if Faux doesn't broadcast, then somebody else gets the rights to broadcast fairly quick. As far as what Faux broadcasts claiming it's legitimate news, the public as a whole has enough other pretenders to keep us entertained, as their is no real news broadcast by any major network in this country anymore.

Posted by: bcreek1 | November 1, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Time and again we see that CONTENT RULES! And we subscribers [sounds so nice and voluntary, doesn't it?] get to pay for it, even if we never watch most of it. Time was, cable was just a clear [not really so clear given the primitive technology of the '70's] signal with a couple of commercial free channels for, say $13.00/mo - about $50-$60 today? Now, it's 100's of real clear channels, most with more commercials than OTA ever had, for $100/mo+. A la carte cable, anyone?

Posted by: ixam | November 1, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I wanted all of News Corp's awful programming gone from my cable line up.
All. Of. It.

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