Fox, Cablevision reach deal to end NY blackout

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox and Cablevision reached an agreement Saturday that will restore programming to more than 3 million New York-area subscribers who have been without some of their favorite shows and baseball playoff games for two weeks.

Signals for all stations and cable channels were restored before the first pitch of Game 3 of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants, said Fox, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

“In the absence of any meaningful action from the FCC, Cablevision has agreed to pay Fox an unfair price for multiple channels of its programming including many in which our customers have little or no interest,” Cablevision said.

Cablevision Systems Corp., based in Bethpage, N.Y., had been without Fox signals since Oct. 16 and thanked its customers for staying with them throughout the dispute.

“In the end, our customers will pay more than they should for Fox programming, but less than they would have if we had accepted the unprecedented rates News Corp. was demanding when they pulled their channels off Cablevision,” the statement said.

The channels restored were Fox 5, Fox 29, My9, Fox Business Network, National Geographic Wild and Fox Deportes.

In preparation for an extended blackout, Cablevision e-mailed its customers Wednesday saying it will reimburse them $10 to cover the cost of paying to watch the games online through MLB.com.

The two sides declined to release details of the agreement Saturday.

Cablevision had said it offered to pay the same rate as Time Warner Cable Inc. for signals from Fox 5 in New York and Fox 29 in Philadelphia for one year, even though the rate is more than it pays for any other New York broadcast station.

The cable operator did not explain what it was offering for My 9 in New York and cable channels Fox Business Network, NatGeo Wild and Fox Deportes.

Fox said the rate was meant as a package deal and called Cablevision’s statement “yet another in a long line of publicity stunts.”

“Cablevision is seeking a discounted ’package rate’ without buying the entire package,” Fox said in a statement.

Cablevision subscribers have been victims of multiple blackouts this year. In March, customers lost their ABC station in New York in the hours leading up to the Oscars. Viewers missed the first 15 minutes of the awards show before Cablevision and Walt Disney Co. reached a tentative deal.

Scripps Networks Interactive Inc.’s Food Network and HGTV also went dark for three weeks in a similar dispute. Separately, Cablevision’s Rainbow Media unit played hardball this summer with AT&T Inc. in fee negotiations over three channels: AMC, IFC and WE tv. That threatened AT&T’s U-verse television customers’ ability to watch the season premiere of AMC’s “Mad Men.”

Other industry standoffs this year have pitted Time Warner Cable Inc. against Fox channels, which threatened the college bowl season and new episodes of “The Simpsons,” and Mediacom Communications Corp. against Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

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