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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

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

By Cecilia Kang  |  March 1, 2010; 10:14 PM ET
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No Diane Sawyer, no George Stephanopoulos the crocodile tears are running down my face.

Posted by: JohnLongIsland | March 2, 2010 2:17 AM | Report abuse

I remember the day when network television was "free" because there was advertising and you paid a premium for "cable" TV which was advertising free. Now it seems the networks want it both ways.

ABC has poor programming and now wants to charge more for the privilege of showing us advertisements.

They want to be properly compensated for what?

Posted by: AutumnBanter | March 2, 2010 3:01 AM | Report abuse

i have not turned on my television in months. and frankly don't miss it one bit. i can not name one new prime time show this season, and other than a few long time shows such as american idol, 60 minutes, 20/20 and dateline, i probably could not tell you the names of programs on TV these days. i used to turn on the tv in the morning while i was getting ready for work and having breakfast. now i play the radio and read the washingtonpost on online. the TV is totally unless in this household anymore. i doubt i will ever use it much anymore. the constant reality show genre killed tv for me and likely for millions of others.

Posted by: dlpetersdc | March 2, 2010 6:21 AM | Report abuse

Who SAYS there's too much media concentration?

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | March 2, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Where is the FCC in all of this? Aren't broadcast networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC licensed by the FCC? They are a public utility, and are subject to certain standards, because anyone can access them.

I can understand there being costs for any channel only accessible via subscription cable services. That's why the FCC doesn't fine cable only channels, for standards issues, because it's not free.

The FCC needs to step in and clarify that broadcast channels must be available for for free to anyone who wants the feed. Let the networks charge for their non-broadcast channels.

We the government license these networks...

Nobody is discussing this aspect of the story.

Posted by: psaxe | March 3, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

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