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Lawmakers grow more vocal about ABC-Cablevision dispute

With a bitter dispute over fees between Walt Disney Co. and Cablevision still unresolved, federal and state lawmakers are now getting involved in an effort to keep millions of customers in the New York and New Jersey area from losing access to ABC programming, .

A dozen Democratic members of Congress from New York and New Jersey have written letters to the Federal Communications Commission or issued statements urging Disney not to pull its ABC signals from 3.1 million Cablevision subscribers in New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) urged the FCC to intervene in the deadlock over retransmission fees. U.S. Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) and New Jersey State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D) have written similar letters urging ABC to keep its programs on Cablevision. Dozens of state legislators have voiced similar concerns about ABC's pending withdrawl from Cablevision.

As reported earlier this week, WABC-7, the local affiliate for Disney’s ABC franchise, said it would go dark for Cablevision subscribers if the parties were unable to come up with an agreement on fees paid by the cable giant to the broadcaster. ABC has said Cablevision is not offering a fair price to carry its programming.

Cablevision has said that Disney, the parent company of ABC, was seeking unreasonable terms. The company says it already pays ABC more than $200 million a year, and is being pressured to pay $40 million on top of that for no additional content.

“We want our customers to know that we will not pull this channel and we urge ABC Disney to make that same commitment,” said Charles Schueler, Cablevision’s executive vice president of communications

By Cecilia Kang  |  March 5, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  FCC  
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Cablevision and Scripps just had lots of attention for this dispute a couple months ago. Any "additional" fees Cablevision pays will just be passed on to subscribers anyway (and then some), so what's the big deal? The more Cablevision argues about this, the less credibility they'll have.

Posted by: scarlet_begonia | March 5, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

there goes syfy...
an abc station...

Posted by: DwightCollins | March 5, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

is this political because too many dems seem to have their fingers in this pot...

Posted by: DwightCollins | March 5, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

If you thought Olympic hockey was good - this Dolans vs.The Mouse House battle could be bruin into something far more riveting and way more relevant than any of the television programming that either organization dispenses. If Disney follows through, which is unlikely, and Cablevision sticks to their 'proliteriate' guns, which is more probable, this should be quite something if not epic. Let's observe the depth of Disney's resolve, once they sit down with their advertisers. Ultimately, it will be a matter of how well Cablevision can manage their disgruntled customers expectations. A reduction in the cost of services would be a powerful antidote, that could send this bout into overtime. Nothing against them, but do you really even need ABC? How fast would the other networks fill the gaps? This a great reality show, and it's all about keeping costs down - that's the new paradigm.

Posted by: Corboulee | March 7, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a Cablevision fan, just a customer. While I disagree on the bundled crap they sell, remember that their internet and VOIP fees have not changed in 7 years. If you are unhappy with their cable service, get rid of the box and just pay the outlet fee of $17 a month, or go else where. The problem, however, is not going away.

If anything, Cable has done a favor to the broadcasters by increasing the viewership of broadcast companies in areas their broadcast can not reach. Now they all want to charge extra for their "broadcast" to wired consumers. In my opinion, they should paying cable companies in the same way they pay the Empire State building to broadcast their signal over the air.

WABC already gets a lot of money playing bad shows, soaps and repeats over their other cable networks. Now they want the money up front for their main network. This is greed. A new reality show brought to you by WABC.

Posted by: ruiz1 | March 7, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

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