UPDATED: Cablevision Offers To Pay Fox 'TWC Rate' For a Year
As the first game of the World Series approaches, Cablevision Systems fired off a revised offer in its retransmission consent dispute with Fox Networks, agreeing to pay the same rate Time Warner Cable pays for broadcast stations WNYW and WTXF for one year.
"In the interest of Cablevision's 3 million households and our mutual viewers, today we have made a new offer to News Corp.," Cablevision said in the statement. "Simply put: we agree to pay the rate Fox charges Time Warner Cable for carriage of WNYW-Fox 5 New York and WTXF-Fox 29 Philadelphia for a period of one year. This is higher than the rate we pay any other New York broadcast station. This solution is in the best interest of not only baseball fans but of all Cablevision customers and Fox viewers. We look forward to a positive response."
Fox's WNYW, WWOR, WTXF and a trio of cable channels came off Cablevision on Oct. 16. Cablevision has repeatedly called for binding arbitration in the dispute, while Fox has insisted that face-to-face negotiations is the best path to a resolution.
As expected, Fox did not accept the offer.
"We remain committed to negotiating a fair deal with Cablevision, but today's incomplete proposal is not acceptable," Fox said in a statement. "Cablevision is seeking a discounted 'package rate' without buying the entire package. We have told Cablevision all along we are willing to negotiate a deal -- based on an entire suite of channels -- under the terms we have reached with Time Warner Cable and other providers, or a stand alone agreement for WNYW FOX5, WTXF FOX29 and WWOR My9. Cablevision's offer -- sent to the press just as it was provided to us -- is yet another in a long line of publicity stunts."
Cablevision was characteristically disappointed in Fox's position.
"On behalf of our customers, we are very disappointed that we offered News Corp. what they asked to be paid for Fox 5 and Fox 29 and News Corp. has said no," Cablevision executive vice president of communications Charles Schueler said in a statement. "It is now clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that News Corp. is operating in bad faith. We call on the FCC to intervene immediately to restore the Fox signals to Cablevision's 3 million homes and order News Corp. to agree to binding arbitration to resolve this conflict."
Time Warner Cable reached a retransmission agreement for WNYW in January. While terms were not disclosed, some analysts estimated that Time Warner Cable agreed to a multi-year deal that started at between 40 cents and 60 cents per subscriber per month and stepped up to $1 per subscriber per month in the last year.
Fox told the FCC in a filing this week that on Oct. 6 it made a proposal to Cablevision for just the standalone broadcast stations, and that Cablevision on Oct. 12 replied by "effectively reiterating" an earlier proposal that Fox had rejected. Fox also said that it told Cablevision a standalone rate for the stations would be higher than if Cablevision bought other Fox products. Time Warner Cable's January agreement also covered numerous Fox cable outlets, including FX, Speed, Fox Movie Channel and regional sports channels. Renewing those channels presumably brought down TWC's license fee for WNYW.
Cablevision's latest statement seemed like an effort to enable customers to watch the first game of the World Series, which is scheduled to air on Fox tonight at 7:57 p.m. WWOR is a MyNetwork TV affiliate and will not broadcast the game.
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By Kent Gibbons