FCC: Are Cablevision, Fox Negotiating In ‘Good Faith?’

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a contract dispute still keeping Fox programming off Cablevision systems, federal regulators are demanding information from both companies about the details of their negotiations.

Roughly 3 million Cablevision subscribers in the New York area have been cut off from baseball playoffs, “House” and other popular Fox shows since Fox pulled its programming a week ago in a battle over the fees that Cablevision pays.

With the blackout entering its second week, the Federal Communications Commission sent letters Friday to executives at Cablevision Systems Corp. and News Corp., which owns Fox. The FCC is asking the companies to describe how they are meeting a government mandate to negotiate in “good faith” and provide details about their efforts to reach a deal. The agency is also asking both companies to provide any evidence that the other side is not bargaining in good faith.

“Your contract dispute extends beyond just Fox and Cablevision,” wrote William Lake, head of the FCC’s media bureau. “It affects millions of innocent consumers who expect to watch their preferred broadcast programming without interruption. We urge you to place the interests of these consumers first and conclude your negotiations promptly.”

The letter went to James Dolan, president and chief executive of Cablevision, and Chase Carey, president and chief operating officer of News Corp.

Cablevision welcomed the FCC’s involvement, which is likely to help the company in its dispute with Fox.

“Whether through FCC action, binding arbitration or any other means, the time has come for News Corp. to end the Fox blackout of 3 million Cablevision households,” Charles Schueler, the company’s executive vice president of communications, said in a statement.

Scott Grogin, a Fox spokesman, said only that the company will respond to the FCC. The company also put out a statement Friday urging Cablevision subscribers who want to see the World Series to switch video providers or purchase an over-the-air antenna. The World Series starts Wedneseday.

As the programming blackout has dragged on, the FCC has come under mounting pressure to intervene.

The agency’s chairman, Julius Genachowski, has publicly called on both companies to set aside their “petty gamesmanship” and negotiate in good faith. He has also called executives at both companies to urge them to reach a deal.

Michael Copps, another Democrat on the five-member commission, has gone even farther. He said the FCC should “take a very serious look at whether ‘good faith’ negotiations are indeed occurring” and “move promptly to protect consumers” if they are not.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • Joseph

    I find it amazing that fox has done this to Dish Network and Bright House too! I know that Dish Network subscribers are still without their Fox channels. Come on Fox it seems to me that your the Bully in the playground. Let the consumer have their channels back until you can come to terms with whom you are BULLYING! I understand Direct Tv is next. Watch out people your Tv provider can be Next!

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  • karma5230

    The best was when I got a call from a telemarketer telling me that Cablevision was in the wrong and now I could make sure I got my Fox Channel so I don’t lose out on programing. Only one problem. I don’t have Cablevision I have Time Warner. That bit of information totally shut her up.

  • Devenio

    So far I’ve missed my Giants and he Yankees. I no longer want FOX. I need to find a way to block them and get cablevision to stop charging me for this mess of a company.

  • joe k

    A pox on both their houses. Neither of these companies care about us their customers.. Too bad there is no easy alternative. What can we do??

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