October 18, 2010 / 8:53 PM / 9 years ago

Still no Fox for Cablevision customers, talks go on

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cablevision Systems Corp customers in New York faced a third day without local stations Fox 5 and My9 Network as a dispute between the cable operator and Fox Networks parent News Corp continued with no end in sight.

The two sides said on Monday they resumed negotiations to restore the stations and avoid customers missing popular shows such as ‘House’ and ‘Glee,’ as well as NFL football and Major League baseball games this week.

“Unfortunately, no significant progress was made because Cablevision continues to demand preferential treatment and rejects the same fair terms that have been accepted by other providers in the market,” Fox said in a statement on Mondayafternoon.

The companies have been unable to reach a deal after several months of talks that heated up in the run-up to a Friday midnight deadline. Each side has publicly blamed the other for bad faith negotiations.

In a sign of how the issue has ratcheted up from other disputes, Fox temporarily blocked access for Cablevision Internet customers to Fox content on Hulu.com and Fox.com on Saturday. News Corp is a joint owner of Hulu with Walt Disney Co and NBC Universal.

Online access to Fox content was restored after News Corp engineers were unable to distinguish between which Cablevision ISP customers also had Cablevision video and which were ISP only customers. Only video customers should have been affected.

Cablevision, which has said News Corp is asking for $150 million in fees compared with $70 million in the past, has been publicly calling for an independent third party to arbitrate the negotiations.

“The longer this shameful News Corp blackout of the NFL and Major League Baseball continues, the more obvious it becomes to everyone, including political leaders of both parties, that binding arbitration is the fastest and fairest way to return Fox programing to Cablevision customers,” Cablevision spokesman Charles Schueler said in a statement.

Fox has argued that Cablevision is using the call for arbitration as a negotiating tactic.

Analysts at Bernstein Research said Cablevision is pushing for regulatory or legislative intervention to make it a more balanced battle against the much larger News Corp.

“Even the FCC itself reminded affected viewers that they could simply switch to Verizon’s FiOS, DirecTV, Dish Network or AT&T’s U-verse,” said Craig Moffett, an analyst at Bernstein in a note to clients.

“But now, mounting anger at rising bills and more frequent blackouts may play to Cablevision’s advantage.”

Editing by Andre Grenon

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