New Yorkers with Cablevision Lose ABC for Oscar Night

Thanks to Disney, 3.1 million cablevision customers in New York won't be able to watch the Oscars (or anything else) on ABC. Disney pulled the plug just after midnight when negotiations with the cable company over a contract dispute didn't get resolved.

Regardless of who's right in the overall dispute, there was no reason for Disney to take it out on the customers the day of the Academy Awards.

The current contract expired more than two years ago but has been maintained on a month-by-month basis since.

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    Hardball... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by kdog on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 06:54:15 AM EST
    That is messed up, no surprise from that bastard corporation Cablevision, notorious for screwing their customers one way or another.  Disney Corp. certainly no prize either.

    This is what happens when corporatins lose sight of why they exist...to provide goods and services to the public.  "Too big to fail" has got them thinking we are here to serve them.  

    Probably the best thing the consumer can do is sacrifice the Oscars, cancel their Cablevision account, and quit watching/buying Disney.  It's the only language these cats understand....money walking out the door.  There is no sense of decency to appeal to...only the bottom line.


    Why they exist (none / 0) (#5)
    by Lora on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 11:41:34 AM EST
    Corporations have only ever existed to make money and increase profits.

    I live 30-ish miles from NYC, but can't pull in (none / 0) (#7)
    by jawbone on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:41:47 PM EST
    dependable over-the-air signals. Topography and man-made structures, I've been told. The antenna needed continal tweaking to get anything. And I don't want to put a tall motorized roof antenna.

    I tried antenna TV as the previous owner had one -- it was horrible, frustrating, and PBS was worst of all. So, I did go to the basic cable package, which I dropped in protest of the terrible non-journalism (wasn't that called "journamalism?) of eventually even CNN. Tried antenna again -- still bad.

    Went with the lowest cost package, broadcast stations only (now up to about $12 with fees) and cable broadband.  But Cablevision got greedy with that, and doubled the cost. So, then to Verizon DSL at what I was told was $17.99 for as long as I kept the service.

    However, Verizon "slammed" me, changing me to a higher bandwidth DSL, which I didn't want bcz it didn't work with my weak signal.  I only realized it when I had to keep making service calls.

    Uh...I didn't notice it bcz I had direct w/drawal from my checking account for the Verizon bill and seldom read the bills....  Yeah, really, really dumb.

    I brought it to Verizon's notice; they would not do anything about it.

    Now I'm with Cablevision phone and broadband (better speed, more dependable broadband, and I can reconnect all the phone jacks Verizon had to pull; apparently my distance from the central office was so far that the signal strength barely enabled DSL at my location. BTW, the cable phone service clarity is just as good as my landline was--and majorally less expensive.) -- but without ABC just now....

    I can watch on streaming video, I gather from the NYC ABC Ch.7 website, but that's confining. Oh, well.

    At least I can keep up with Lost....


    Well, of course there's a reason (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 07:20:34 AM EST
    Anyway, I'm not one to side with the Dolans, but I hope they stand their ground here. The broadcast networks should not be paid by cable subscribers for what they give away free over the air. At least, no more than a very nominal fee.

    if that's the case (none / 0) (#4)
    by CoralGables on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 11:04:20 AM EST
    I suspect you would then have to agree that cable companies would have to offer a package of all free over the air stations to the public as a free package. Otherwise, allowing a cable company to get rights to network broadcasts for free and then turn around and sell it to customers should also give me the right to tape Lady Gaga music off the radio and sell it on the street corner.

    It's a complicated subject (none / 0) (#11)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 03:07:31 PM EST
    IMO, we should sink OTA broadcasts and provide everyone with free basic cable. But the truth is that broadcast basic packages are still subject to rate regulation under the Cable Act.

    If only cable companies were required (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 03:13:27 PM EST
    by law to include local MLB game broadcasts in basic cable package.

    That idea (none / 0) (#13)
    by CoralGables on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 05:36:16 PM EST
    would make my day (everyday) from April thru October.

    Speaking as a former Cablevision customer (none / 0) (#3)
    by scribe on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 09:37:57 AM EST
    one has to recognize that this is a direct product of how the Dolans operate their businesses.

    Example 1:  A few years back, the NY Yankees created their now-well-established YES (Yankees Entertainment and Sports) Network and assigned their cable games to it.

    Cablevision wanted a bigger piece of the action.

    Result:  a full year without Yankee games on cable, thanks to Cablevision.

    It took governmental officials threatening intervention against Cablevision on behalf of their constituents to get them to move.

    Example 2:  A few years back, the Knicks (also a Dolan property) were sued over some grotesque sexual harassment of a female executive.  They dragged it out all the way through a trial, and tried to make a stink over paying the millions of dollars in punitive damages they were found to owe her.

    When it comes to business practices, they make the old Lily Tomlin bit about the phone company ("We don't care.  We don't have to.) seem like a warm, caring caress.

    The evil empire (none / 0) (#6)
    by Lora on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 11:44:06 AM EST
    ...there was no reason for Disney to take it out on the customers the day of the Academy Awards.

    Disney doesn't care.  It is a mega-corporation.  It ONLY cares about its bottom line.  Always will.

    I thought cable companies were REQUIRED to (none / 0) (#8)
    by jawbone on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:43:39 PM EST
    carry broadcast TV stations?

    So, how can Disney try to demand higher payment for its broadcast station?

    Or is it a package deal, with Disney wanting more for all its offerings?

    Ah, FCC FAC page: Google IS my friend! (none / 0) (#9)
    by jawbone on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:53:59 PM EST
    Altho I'm not sure I get quite all of the permutations....

    Q: Why must my cable system carry so many broadcast stations?
    A: The Communications Act requires cable operators to set aside a specified portion of their channels for local commercial and non-commercial television stations. A cable operator with 12 or fewer channels must set aside up to three channels for local commercial television stations and at least one channel for a local noncommercial educational television broadcast station. Cable operators with more than 12 channels must set aside one third of their channel capacity for local commercial stations. Cable systems with between 13 and 36 channels must carry at least one, but need not carry more than three, local noncommercial educational television stations. Cable systems with more than 36 channels must carry all local noncommercial educational television stations requesting carriage with some exceptions for duplication of signals. Local television stations choosing the must-carry option and those that have negotiated agreements for retransmission with the cable system count towards this quota.

    Q: What happens if a station chooses the must-carry option?

    A: Must-carry stations are generally guaranteed carriage on the cable system on a preferred channel number. Local commercial television stations have been given the option of electing must-carry status or retransmission consent status, while local noncommercial television stations may only seek carriage on a must-carry basis.
    Commercial stations that have elected must-carry status have the option of requesting carriage on the same channel number that they occupy over-the-air, on the channel number that the station occupied on July 19, 1985, or on the channel that the station occupied on January 1, 1992. However, television stations may also be carried on any channel that is mutually agreed upon by the station and the cable operator.

    Q. Why does the channel line-up on my cable system keep changing?

    A: There may be several different reasons for changes to occur in the cable system's channel line-up on an on-going basis. First, a new television station may have entered your market. New television stations also have the right to elect between must-carry and retransmission consent within the initial months of operation. Second, either a broadcast station or a cable system may have requested that the FCC include or exclude a particular broadcast station in your local market. If a decision is made by the FCC to include or exclude a television station from your cable system's market, the station may have to be added or deleted from the cable system. Finally, cable programming services such as C-SPAN, USA or the Comedy Channel, may be added or deleted at the discretion of your cable operator to enable the operator to carry a different cable programming service, or to carry a newly available broadcast station.

    Q: Why is the retransmission consent requirement included in the law?

    A: Since 1934, broadcast stations that use the programming of other broadcast stations have been required to obtain the prior consent of the originating station. This requirement has now been applied to cable systems because the absence of this requirement was distorting the video marketplace and threatening the future of over-the-air television broadcasting. This law treats broadcasters the same as other programming services carried by cable systems.

    Q: Why does my cable system offer several channels with similar programming formats (for instance, religious, Hispanic, shopping) not previously carried?

    A: Some stations may have been added to your system because they are considered local for your area and they have requested, and are entitled to, carriage under the must-carry rules. Commercial stations are considered local if they are assigned to the same television market as your cable system. Noncommercial stations are considered local if they are licensed to cities within 50 miles of your cable system or their signals meet certain technical engineering standards at the cable system's reception facility. Other channels with these formats may be cable networks and are carried at the discretion of the cable operator.

    Q: What happens if my cable operator and a particular station do not reach a retransmission consent agreement?

    A: Until the cable operator and the television station reach an agreement, the cable operator is prohibited from carrying that station's signal. Once an agreement is reached, the station can be put back on the cable system immediately. In addition, every three years broadcast stations must decide whether to demand carriage on local cable systems without receiving compensation or elect to negotiate a retransmission consent agreement.

    The initial election between must-carry or retransmission consent was made on June 17, 1993 and was effective on October 6, 1993. The most recent election occurred on October 1, 1999 and was effective January 1, 2000. The next election will occur on October 1, 2002 and will become effective January 1, 2003. All subsequent elections will occur every three years.

    Q: What can the FCC do if a broadcaster and a cable operator fail to reach a retransmission consent agreement?

    A: Generally, the FCC is not authorized to participate in discussions between television stations and cable systems regarding retransmission consent agreements. Furthermore, the FCC cannot tell a cable operator which stations or program services to delete in order to comply with the must-carry requirement. If you have comments regarding changes in the programming offered by your cable system, you should contact your cable operator. Information on how to contact your cable operator is included on your cable bill.

    Q: Will my cable bill increase as a result of retransmission consent agreements?

    A: In return for allowing a cable system to carry its signal, a television station may require the payment of a fee or other consideration (for instance, carriage of another programming service or advertising time). Any new or additional costs incurred as a result of retransmission consent agreements may be passed through to cable subscribers.

    My emphasis throughout.

    I'm one of 'em (none / 0) (#10)
    by snstara on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 01:46:20 PM EST
    and this film junkie is pissed, pissed, pissed.  They could at least have waited until after the Academy Awards.

    But no: this is pure strategy from ABC and Cablevision.   Or, as I now call them in a h/t to Disney's "Wonderland", Greedledum & Greedledumber.

    Seems kind of dumb to me (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by jbindc on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 08:17:39 AM EST
    Since the Oscars were on ABC - seems like they were cutting their own throats, no?