SBD/Issue 34/Sports Media

News Corp. Rejects Deal; Cablevision To Pay Subs' MLB.com WS Buys

Cablevision Vows To Reimburse Subscribers
Who Watch World Series On MLB.com

News Corp. yesterday "quickly rejected Cablevision's offer of a one-year deal," calling the offer to carry the Fox affiliates in N.Y. and Philadelphia a "publicity stunt," according to Cynthia Littleton of DAILY VARIETY. Cablevision yesterday "went public with an offer to pay the same price that Fox charges Time Warner Cable for carriage" of WNYW and WTXF "for a one-year period." Fox "has used its Time Warner Cable retrans pact as a benchmark in the Cablevision negotiations because it is contractually bound through a favored-nations clause to ensure that Time Warner Cable does not pay a higher rate for the stations than any other subscription TV provider." But Fox' deal with Cablevision also encompasses WWOR-MYT, "plus other Fox-owned cablers, and it runs for a five-year term." Cablevision sent the one-page offer to Fox officials yesterday, "after which execs from both companies spoke by phone." It is "understood that Cablevision rebuffed Fox's effort to discuss a deal encompassing other channels similar to the structure of its pact with Time Warner Cable." Meanwhile, as it became "apparent that there would be no deal in time for the start of the World Series, Cablevision issued a statement vowing to reimburse subscribers who pay to watch the games on MLB.com." Cablevision said that subscribers "who sent in purchase confirmations from MLB.com would receive a $10 credit on their bill" (DAILY VARIETY, 10/28). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Georg Szalai notes while Cablevision said that the carriage offer "came under terms proposed by Fox, the latter highlighted that the cable firm had offered terms proposed in a broader content package deal." The FCC "has encouraged the sides to reach an agreement as it doesn't have powers beyond reprimanding and fining companies" for not negotiating "in good faith" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 10/28).

JETS FACE BLACKOUT: In Newark, Jenny Vrentas notes Sunday's Packers-Jets game is scheduled to air at 1:00pm ET on Fox, "meaning that if the impasse between Fox and Cablevision is not settled by then, more than 3 million subscribers in the region will not receive the game." Jets Owner Woody Johnson yesterday said in a statement, "I spoke with Cablevision and News Corporation about the importance of broadcasting our game this Sunday. ... If a resolution cannot be reached, I hope that they can set aside their differences to air our game against the Packers" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/28). ESPN N.Y.'s Rich Cimini wrote, "You have to assume Giants ownership tried the same thing two weeks ago, when their game against the Detroit Lions was on Fox" (ESPNNEWYORK.com, 10/27).

SEE YOU IN COURT: In N.Y., Atkinson & MacIntosh report Cablevision was "slapped with another class action lawsuit over failing to provide Fox programming to customers." The latest suit seeks a total of $450M "for a month of restitution for all subscribers, or more if the dispute continues." The plaintiffs said that they have been "deprived of their favorite shows, including 'Glee,' as well as the MLB playoffs and Giants football" (N.Y. POST, 10/28). An FCC official last night said that the agency is "looking into whether Cablevision subscribers should receive refunds for programs missed during the dispute." The official "declined to elaborate" (NEWSDAY, 10/28).

DISH DEAL EXPIRING: In Salt Lake City, Scott Pierce notes Dish Network's contract with Fox "expires at midnight Sunday, and there's no new deal in sight." KSTU-Fox President & GM Tim Ermish: "I'm afraid what's going to happen is that Dish customers are going to be without Fox." KSTU "launched a media blitz to inform Dish subscribers of the impending interruption, including advertisements and news stories on its own channel, commercials on radio and cable, and newspaper ads" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 10/28).

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