These games of chicken over carriage and retransmission fees always seem to go down to the wire before being resolved. Though Cablevision didn't have a problem letting Food Network and HGTV go dark on its cable system for a while before working out a deal, I'll be very surprised if it happens like that in the case of New York's ABC affiliate. The deadline is the end of the day Saturday, but even though things have turned nasty in public, if WABC isn't available on Cablevision for the Oscars Sunday night, I'll be surprised.
Here's the latest public war of the words via press releases from both Cablevision and WABC.
Cablevision Issues Updated Statement On ABC Disney
Urges Disney President and CEO Bob Iger to Stop Holding Viewers Hostage, End Threats to Pull the Plug on ABC and Work to Reach a Fair Agreement
BETHPAGE, N.Y., March 5 -- Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC) today continued to urge ABC Disney to listen to government officials and consumers and not pull the plug on WABC at midnight on Saturday, March 6, 2010 while the negotiations continue. Cablevision has announced that it will leave the WABC Channel position open and available and that the switch is in Disney President and CEO Bob Iger's hands.
Charles Schueler, Cablevision's executive vice president of communications, said:
"There is one man who is going to decide whether New York gets to see the Oscars, and that's Disney President and CEO Bob Iger. Cablevision already pays Disney more than $200 million a year and now they are demanding $40 million more. We call on Bob Iger to stop holding his own viewers hostage, end his threats to pull the plug on ABC at midnight and instead work with us to reach a fair agreement. The switch is in Bob Iger's hands."
Cablevision customers should urge ABC Disney not to pull their programming by calling 1-877-NO-TV-TAX, visiting http://www.cablevision.com/abc or joining its Facebook group "Cablevision Viewers Say: No New Fees, ABC!"
Cablevision Systems Corporation is one of the nation's leading telecommunications, media and entertainment companies. In addition to its Optimum-branded cable, Internet, and voice offerings, the company owns and operates News 12 Networks, MSG Varsity and Newsday Media Group. Cablevision's assets also include Rainbow Media Holdings LLC and its programming and entertainment businesses, AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel, WE tv and IFC Entertainment, as well as Clearview Cinemas. Additional information about Cablevision is available on the Web at www.cablevision.com.
Statement from Rebecca Campbell, President and General Manager, WABC-TV:
“It’s an insult to Cablevision customers that, with literally hours to go before losing access to ABC7, Cablevision is personally attacking Disney executives. Does Cablevision have such little regard for its subscribers’ intelligence to think that they don’t know a negotiation takes two parties? The inconvenient truth is that ABC7 has been prepared to reach a fair agreement for two years and Cablevision has refused to do its part. If Cablevision CEO James Dolan and the Dolan Family Dynasty have any regard at all for the millions of customers who pay hard earned dollars for their service, they will order their troops to stop slinging mud and start cutting a deal.”
WABC-TV, Channel 7, the most watched local television station in the United States, serves more than 7.4 million television households in 29 counties covering New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. For more than 60 years, ABC7 has consistently been the leader in local news and local and national entertainment programming.