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Francesa Grills Fox President On Cablevision Dispute

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Dennis Swanson/File Photo

Dennis Swanson/File Photo

NEW YORK (WFAN) — Fox Station President Dennis Swanson joined WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Tuesday to talk about the ongoing battle between Cablevision and Fox.

LISTEN: Mike Francesa Challenges Swanson

The dispute between has stretched into its fourth day. Cablevision subscribers were left in the dark on Sunday during the New York Giants game and both games between the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants.

Cablevision said has agreed to binding arbitration under the direction of a third party.  Fox said the issue could only be solved through direct negotiation.

“I don’t think Cablevision is negotiating in good faith,” Swanson said.  “They don’t want to make a deal with us.”

This type of fight has become more common. Broadcasters want more money from cable and satellite providers so they don’t have to rely as much on advertising, which, as the recession illustrated, can be a volatile source of income. Cablevision and other subscription TV providers have resisted paying higher fees.

The blackouts that sometimes result have started to draw attention from lawmakers and consumer advocates. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, pledged to introduce legislation intended to prevent broadcasters from pulling a signal until the parties have gone through a process with the Federal Communications Commission to ensure good faith negotiation and consider arbitration as an option.

New Jersey’s U.S. senators, Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski calling on the FCC to help speed negotiations. “We are deeply troubled that consumers are repeatedly being  used as pawns in these programming disputes,” they said.

Fox and Cablevision also traded recriminations. Cablevision spokesman Charles Schueler again called for binding arbitration to settle the dispute, a step Fox has resisted. “When broadcasters like News Corp. remove their signals, they hurt viewers in an attempt to gain business leverage,” Schueler said in a statement.

Fox accused Cablevision of demanding “preferential treatment” and rejecting “the same fair terms that have been accepted by other providers in the market.”

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