If you are one of the 3 million people subscribing to Cablevision, you might be surprised to wake up this morning to find you can no longer watch FOX. Cablevision and News Corp, FOX's parent company, are in a dispute over how much money the carrier should pay to broadcast the network.
This could make things really dicey for Jets fans in the near future. FOX has the rights to Sunday afternoon NFL games in which an NFC participant is the road team. One such example is the game between the Packers and the Jets on October 31. It could also keep baseball's National League Championship Series and World Series off the air.
More after the jump.
For its part, FOX is refusing to take part in binding arbitration. In other words, an impartial mediator would resolve the dispute and allow their customers to continue seeing the network.
According to Cablevision press releases, a number of public officials from both major parties have come out in public and asked the parties to do so.
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Congressman Peter King (R-NY)
Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY)
Congressman Tim Bishop (D-NY)
Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY)
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
Congressman Steve Rothman (D-NJ)
Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ)
NY State Senator George Maziarz (R-NY)
NY State Senator Jose Peralta (D-NY)
NY State Senator Dean Skelos (R-NY)
NY State Assemblyman Karim Camara (D-NY)
NY State Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY)
NY State Assemblyman Denny Farrell (D-NY)
NY State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-NY)
NY State Assemblyman Mike Spano (D-NY)
NJ State Senator Paul Sarlo (D-NJ)
NJ State Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-NJ)
NJ Speaker of the Assembly Sheila Oliver (D-NJ)
CT State Senator Gayle Slossberg (D-CT)
CT State Rep. Chris Perone (D-CT)
CT State Rep. William Tong (D-CT)
Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone (D-NY)
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day (R-NY)
NYC Councilmember Erik Martin Dilan (D-NY)
NYC Councilmember Dan Garodnick (D-NY)
Westchester County Legislator Bill Ryan (D-NY)
Harrison Town Supervisor Joan Walsh (D-NY)
These are mostly Democrats, but Peter King is a prominent Republican in the House of Representatives. He is the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee. FOX has refused these requests. Now people cannot watch its networks.
I don't have a ton of sympathy for Cablevision either, though. They have a history of making unreasonable demands in similar disputes. Yankees fans across the area were shut out from the YES Network and 120 games in 2002. The source of the dispute was Cablevision's refusal to pay the exact same amount for YES it was charging other cable providers for regional sports networks it owned. These regional sports networks Cablevision owned happened to be direct competitors with the network it would not show on its cable systems. Cablevision also refuses to show NFL Network, claiming it as some sort of retribution for the league making its Sunday Ticket product for out of market games exclusive to DirecTV.
Cablevision is run by the Dolan family. The Dolans operate the Knicks and Rangers. They also led the efforts to destroy the Jets' West Side Stadium. They aren't exactly beacons on competent ownership or overwhelming concern for their customers. They just pulled stations they own off a provider, Dish Network, in a similar dispute.
You do have options. I switched from Cablevision to Verizon FiOS two years ago and have not regretted it. I now get NFL Network. I also have had many less problems, and much more attentive customer service. With Cablevision, I once had to stay on the line for a half hour to get them to credit my account for a service I paid for but was not broadcast to my box. You can also go to DirecTV and get NFL Sunday Ticket for out of market games.
What we have here are two media companies with too much power, too many agendas, and too little regard for their customers.