Fox to restore Internet videos to Cablevision customers
Fox plans to restore video delivery to Cablevision Internet subscribers after blocking that content earlier in the day, according to a source familiar with negotiations.
On Saturday afternoon, Cablevision Internet subscribers were blocked from viewing Fox content online, a move that extends the companies' television retransmission fees dispute to the Web.
Fox, owned by News Corp., blocked Cablevision users from viewing Fox shows on Hulu.com (partly owned by News Corp.), according to Cablevision. A Fox spokesman declined to comment.
Earlier in the day, Fox pulled its channel signal from Cablevision cable subscribers as the two sides failed to reached an agreement on carriage fees. It was the sixth time in one year that television disputes between broadcasters and cable/satellite providers ended in television blackouts. But public interest groups said that by blocking users from online Fox content, News Corp. sparked bigger concerns about media consolidation.
"Fox's actions raise important questions about the future of the online video market and the public interest obligation of broadcasters," said Derek Turner, policy director at public interest group Free Press. "Consumers should have the right to watch online content, and this access should not be tied to a dispute over cable television carriage arrangements."
Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, said the incident highlights the need for regulators to heavily scrutinize Comcast's proposed merger with NBC Universal.
"This case shows the dangers of unchecked media consolidation and of a retransmission consent regime badly in need of reform," Sohn said.
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said earlier Saturday that he would introduce a bill to prevent broadcasters from pulling their signals during retransmission disputes. His bill would also put the Federal Communications Commission in charge of determining whether a deal should go into arbitration.
| October 16, 2010; 5:55 PM ET
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