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FOX And Cablevision Standoff May Leave New Yorkers Without MLB And NFL Games

Yesterday Cablevision programming chief Mac Budill wrote a letter to Fox affiliate sales president Mike Hopkins asking News Corp. to refrain from pulling Fox 5 and My9 off air while the two sides continue to negotiate a new deal.  If contract terms are not resolved this week, Cablevision subscribers in New York could lose the Fox TV Network and My Network TV signals at 12:01 am Saturday morning.

In addition to local favorites like WNYW’s Good Day New York and Fox 5 News, Fox’s website warns that this feud with Cablevision can also bar New Yorkers from major national primetime and sports programs:

“The bottom line is that the Fox stations feature some of the nation’s most-watched programming with shows such as American Idol, House, Glee, and The Simpsons, as well as the most compelling sports on television with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and NASCAR.  The price Fox is asking for as compensation for all this value is extremely reasonable.”

Given the timing of the conflict, New York sports fans with Cablevision are in dire straits with their favorite teams playing big games on WNYW.  The Yankees open the ALCS in Texas on Friday, however the entire series will be aired on TBS.  This programming schedule spares New Yorkers from a blackout of their beloved Bronx Bombers until the World Series.  Baseball fans will, however, be unable to view FOX’s broadcast of the NLCS between the Giants and Phillies.

One half  of the Empire State’s football fans will be disappointed as the Giants host the Detroit Lions this Sunday in a game scheduled to air on FOX.  Jets’ fans luck out as Gang Green will travel to Denver for a CBS afternoon game.  Still, both teams’ followers are at risk of local blackouts and will have to find another cable service provider if FOX and Cablevision continue to refuse to play nice.

Aside from pro sports, Cablevision consumers are in danger of losing other stations on the Fox broadcast network including Fox Business Network, NatGeo Wild, and Fox Deportes.  Fox is also in talks with satellite TV provider Dish Network to reach an agreement to keep FX, National Geographic Channel, and several regional sports networks on the air.

UPDATE: Earlier today Charles Schueler, Cablevision’s executive vice president of communications, released a statement saying:

“In a difficult economy, it is unfair and wrong for News Corp. to demand huge fee increases from Cablevision customers for Fox’s channel 5 and My9 and then threaten to pull the plug if they don’t get what they want.  Cablevision already pays News Corp. $70 million every year for its channels, and now News Corp. wants more than $150 million a year for the exact same programming.  We call on the executives of News Corp. to stop threatening to pull the plug and instead negotiate a fair agreement.”

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