SBD/October 19, 2010/Media

News Corp., Cablevision Set To Meet Again After Making No Progress

Cablevision Customers Missed Sunday's Lions-Giants Game Due To Dispute
News Corp. officials said the company made "no significant progress" in a brief meeting with Cablevision yesterday morning, and another discussion is set for today, according to sources cited by Sam Schechner of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Fox Networks Group Chair & CEO Tony Vinciquerra: "I sent six people to New York last Thursday, and they've been sitting there, twiddling their thumbs. There's been no substantive negotiation." Cablevision viewers in N.Y. already have missed the first two games of the Giants-Phillies NLCS and Sunday's Lions-Giants game, and it is "possible the fight could drag on." Game Three of the NLCS is set for this afternoon, though a "game featuring a New York team isn't set to appear on Fox until at least Oct. 27, when it is possible the New York Yankees will play in the World Series" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/19). U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) yesterday asked the FCC to "exercise all of its available authority to promptly resolve the Fox and Cablevision dispute." On Long Island, Verne Gay notes WNYW-Fox averaged a 7.8 local rating in N.Y. for Lions-Giants, which was "significantly lower than usual." The first two Giants games on Fox this season earned ratings of 14.5 and 11.3 in the N.Y. market. Also, WCBS averaged a 14.0 local rating in N.Y. for Sunday's Jets-Broncos game. Horizon Media Senior VP/Research Brad Adgate said of the dispute, "It would hurt the local Fox ratings in New York significantly since their footprint of nearly 3 million homes are there" (NEWSDAY, 10/19). New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie yesterday said he would contact N.J. Board of Public Utilities President Lee Solomon, whose group regulates the cable industry, to express his "concern" Cablevision is "not fulfilling the obligation they have to ratepayers." Fox Sports Senior VP/Media Relations Lou D'Ermilio said that News Corp. "welcomes Christie's assistance 'in the hopes that he can motivate Cablevision into serious business-to-business negotiations'" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/19).

NOT BACKING DOWN: News Corp. said in a statement, "It is increasingly clear that Cablevision's real intention is to continue making this their subscribers' problem in the hope that with enough inconvenience, politicians will intervene to protect Cablevision's huge profits -- nearly $795 per subscriber last year." News Corp. said that MSG Network "never sought arbitration after it went dark from Dish earlier this month," and the company also "called Cablevision's claim that it is seeking $150mln in fees, up from $70mln, untrue" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 10/19). Fox Cable Networks VP/Corporate Communications Brian Peterson in an e-mail said that the two sides "will likely resume talks Wednesday, but that any contact will be via the telephone" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 10/18).

PLAYING CHICKEN: DAILY VARIETY's Cynthia Littleton reports Fox officials are "convinced Cablevision -- with an eye toward a World Series in which the Yankees might participate -- is stalling at the negotiating table in hopes that the feds or FCC will take steps to force arbitration or muster a quick legislative rewrite of the FCC's retransmission consent rule." But the "wait-it-out strategy seems likely to cost Cablevision some subscribers in the short term" (DAILY VARIETY, 10/19). On Long Island, Neil Best wrote, "If the Yankees win the ALCS and this thing drags on into the World Series, which is on Fox ... Oy. Let's not even think about that" (NEWSDAY.com, 10/18).

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News Corp, Cablevision

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