ABC to go dark for Cablevision NY subscribers as talks break down
About 3 million Cablevision subscribers in the New York area could miss out on this Sunday's Oscars and other ABC broadcasts because of a breakdown in negotiations over retransmission rights, according to the companies.
WABC-TV, Channel 7 in New York, said late Monday that it began alerting Cablevision subscribers in Long Island, Westchester, Brooklyn, the Bronx and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey that the station could go dark for viewers starting 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
Cablevision and ABC blame each another for the impasse. Cablevision said ABC was demanding an additional $40 million a year from Cablevision for the rights to deliver Walt Disney Co. channels, including ABC, to its subscribers in the Northeast. That was on top of $200 million the cable giant says it already pays for Walt Disney content each year with no additional channels or shows.
“It is not fair for ABC Disney to hold Cablevision customers hostage by forcing them to pay for what amounts to a new TV tax,” Charles Schueler, executive vice president for Cablevision, said in a statement. “We urge ABC Disney not to pull the plug and instead work with us to reach a fair agreement.”
ABC said viewers can still get shows such as “Lost,” “Dancing with the Stars,” and “Good Morning America” through free over-the-air broadcast via antennas or digital converter boxes. But the company is pulling its content from Cablevision’s lineup because it does don’t think it is being properly compensated.
The company's previous contract with Cablevision expired more than two years ago, but the companies extended it month by month as talks continued.
Under previous arrangements, Disney was paid for cable channels such as ESPN and Disney Channel, but gave its ABC broadcast signal away for free, a situation that most broadcasters are now trying to change.
“Our stance on retransmission consent is to get paid appropriately for the value our stations deliver to distributors,” said Rebecca Campbell, WABC-TV’s president and general manager. “Having tried to negotiate for the past two years, we simply can no longer extend our ABC content to Cablevision beyond March 6 unless we receive appropriate cash compensation.”
With contribution by Associated Press
March 1, 2010; 10:14 PM ET
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