Source: No weekend talks between Cablevision, News Corp.By Verne Gay
October 24, 2010
No talks were held Saturday between Cablevision and News Corp. and none were expected to be held Sunday, according to an industry source familiar with the negotiations.
Both sides had been expected to resume limited negotiations during the weekend following pressure by the Federal Communications Commission to return to the bargaining table to settle their week-old dispute over retransmission fees.
Both Cablevision and News Corp. declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) praised the FCC's attempt to jump-start the negotiations in a statement Saturday morning: "Because of the growing concern in the Third Congressional District and throughout Long Island regarding the Cablevision/News Corp. stalemate, I welcome the positive action taken on Friday by the FCC. I urge the FCC to continue its efforts to resolve this dispute."
In a letter sent Friday to the chief executives of both companies, William Lake, chief of the FCC Mass Media Bureau wrote: "Your contract dispute extends beyond just Fox and Cablevision. It affects millions of innocent consumers who expect to watch their preferred broadcast programming without interruption. We urge you to place the interests of these consumers first and conclude your negotiations promptly."
Bethpage-based Cablevision, which owns Newsday, issued a statement Friday regarding the most recent FCC intervention: "We welcome the FCC's intervention.
Whether through FCC action, binding arbitration or any other means, the time has come for News Corp. to end the Fox blackout of 3 million Cablevision households."
On Thursday, Cablevision updated the video message posted on Fox / 5 and My9 screens, saying that "you may not know this," but Cablevision has "made several proposals" while "News Corp. [Fox's parent] has not budged off one cent."
News Corp. did not immediately address the FCC letter, but put out its own statement, urging Cablevision subscribers who want to see the World Series, which begins Wednesday, to switch providers or purchase an over-the-air antenna.
The dispute, which began a week ago Friday at midnight when News Corp. pulled Fox / 5 and My9, centers around the issue of retransmission fees. Cablevision says it pays News Corp. up to $70 million annually for all of its various Fox channels, while Fox is seeking $150 million.