Fox/Cablevision still talking, FCC also talking. Yet no change on Day 4.

October 19, 2010

NYGiants

So you know the story well by now: Fox Networks’ Fox 5 and My 9 channels have been off the air  for Cablevision’s 3 million odd homes in the New York area since midnight on Saturday morning because both sides have been unable to reach a carriage deal. As a result New York football fans have missed a key Giants game versus Detroit Lions (pictured)  and could miss more if this continues. As you might expect, the argument between Fox and Cablevision is over money.

Since then both sides have exchanged barbs and made various claims about who’s to blame — which is standard practice in a programming fee dispute. But FCC Chair Julius Genachowski appears to have had enough according to this statement:

“I am deeply troubled that Cablevision and Fox are spending more time attacking each other through ads and lobbyists than sitting down at the negotiating table.  The time for petty gamesmanship is over.

“I have called the CEOs of both companies and reiterated the importance of reaching a deal, as many companies have done before.  I reminded the companies that they share responsibility for consumer disruption, and that they shouldn’t punish consumers because of their unwillingness to reach a deal.  I also insisted that they negotiate in good faith.  We will continue to scrutinize their actions very closely.”

According to Fox, both sides did talk on Tuesday  for a short while on the phone but “no material progress was made and we remain far apart.” Fox said they’d continue talking tomorrow.

Cablevision for its part continues to push for binding arbitration i.e. getting an independent third party involved to help both sides meet somewhere in the middle.

“Both parties have a position, but only Cablevision has joined with more than 50 government leaders with a solution, binding arbitration under the direction of a neutral third party.  By now it should be clear even to News Corp. that binding arbitration is the fastest and fairest way to return Fox programming to our customers.”

For the record Fox describes  Cablevision’s call for arbitration as  “stunning hypocrisy” and wants the cable operator to spend a bit more time negotiating.

(Photo/Reuters)

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