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Cablevision deal with News Corp. restores Fox programs

Fox programming was back on Cablevision late Saturday after the cable company reached what it called an unfair deal with News Corp. Dish Network reached a deal with Fox, too.
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

Fox programming was back on Cablevision late Saturday after the cable company reached what it called an unfair deal with News Corp.

Fox said signals for all stations and cable channels were restored for 3 million viewers before the first pitch of Game 3 of the World Series. Fox had been blacked out in Cablevision homes since Oct. 16.

The deal also assured football fans they could watch the Sunday matchup between the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers.

Separately, Dish Network and Fox entered into a new contract restoring some of Fox's programming to Dish subscribers.

Financial terms of both agreements were not disclosed.

System 'broken'
Cablevision said it disliked its deal.

"In the absence of any meaningful action from the FCC, Cablevision has agreed to pay Fox an unfair price for multiple channels of its programming including many in which our customers have little or no interest," the company said in a prepared statement.

"Cablevision conceded because it does not think its customers should any longer be denied the Fox programs they wish to see," it said.

Cablevision also thanked its customers for understanding the dispute.

"It is clear the retransmission consent system is badly broken and needs to be fixed," Cablevision said.

"In the end, our customers will pay more than they should for Fox programming, but less than they would have if we had accepted the unprecedented rates News Corp. was demanding when they pulled their channels off Cablevision."

The channels returning to Cablevision are Fox 5 (WNYW), Fox 29 (WTXF), My9, Fox Business Network, National Geographic Wild and Fox Deportes.

Dish subscribers lost Fox's regional sports networks, FX and National Geographic on Oct. 1 after Dish refused to agree to what it claimed was a 50 percent increase in programming fees by Fox.

"After prolonged negotiations to reach a fair deal, we're pleased to enter into a long-term agreement with Fox and to assure our customers that they can continue to enjoy these channels," Dave Shull, senior vice president of programming at Dish Network, said in a statement.

Fox insiders denied that Fox demanded a fee increase as high as 50 percent.

This Sunday several fox local stations in cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Dallas were slated to go off the air for Dish subscribers, but the new agreement ensures local Fox programming.

Blackouts over fees
The latest dispute is another example of how networks are struggling to find profits as advertising revenue dwindles and programming costs grow. Networks are transmitted freely over the airwaves, but expensive event programming has increasingly led the companies behind them to demand fees from cable TV and satellite operators for retransmitting those signals.

Cablevision subscribers have been victims of multiple blackouts this year. In March, customers lost their ABC station in New York in the hours leading up to the Oscars. Viewers missed the first 15 minutes of the awards show before Cablevision and Walt Disney Co. reached a tentative deal.

Scripps Networks Interactive Inc.'s Food Network and HGTV also went dark for three weeks in a similar dispute. Separately, Cablevision's Rainbow Media unit played hardball this summer with AT&T Inc. in fee negotiations over three channels: AMC, IFC and WE tv. That threatened AT&T's U-verse television customers' ability to watch the season premiere of AMC's "Mad Men."

Other industry standoffs this year have pitted Time Warner Cable Inc. against News Corp.'s Fox channels, which threatened the college bowl season and new episodes of "The Simpsons," and Mediacom Communications Corp. against Sinclair Broadcasting Group.