Cablevision, ABC settle fee feud - Oscars back on for New Yorkers

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Cablevision customers in the New York area were able to start watching the Oscars about 15 minutes into the start of the program Sunday, when ABC restored its local affiliate's signal after pulling it due to a fee dispute.

After negotiations collapsed between Cablevision and ABC's owner, the Walt Disney Co., WABC was yanked from Cablevision's channel selection early in the morning. The stalemate continued until about 8:45 p.m. ET.

It was looking like Cablevision's 3.1 million subscribers in the greater New York City area would not be able to view the Academy Awards, one of television's most-watched live events, until the companies reached their late deal. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Charles Schueler, Cablevision's executive vice president of communications, said in a statement, "We are happy to report that WABC Channel 7 has returned to Cablevision's 3 million New York area homes. We are very grateful to our customers for their support and pleased to welcome ABC back."

"We've made significant progress, and have reached an agreement in principle that recognizes the fair value of ABC7," WABC-TV president and general manager Rebecca Campbell said in a statement. "Given this movement, we're pleased to announce that ABC7 will return to Cablevision households while we work to complete our negotiations."

The feud began when Disney (DIS, Fortune 500) said it wanted Cablevision to pay for the right to deliver its ABC broadcast channel to its subscribers, which would amount to an additional $40 million a year in fees.

Before the agreement, Cablevision (CVC, Fortune 500) paid Disney more than $200 million a year to carry its cable networks, which include ESPN, the Disney Channel and ABC Family.

Cablevision charges customers up to $18 a month to receive just the basic broadcast networks -- ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and PBS, according to Disney, which said it did not share in any of that revenue.

Cablevision had contended that Disney's move would force its customers "to pay a new TV tax for programming [that] ABC Disney gives away free, both over-the-air and on the Internet."

Campbell shot back with her statement, "We can no longer sit back and allow Cablevision to use our shows for free while they continue to charge their customers for them."

The debate was similar to a heated battle between News Corp. (NWS, Fortune 500) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) over paying to carry the Fox network. The companies came to an agreement hours after the Dec. 31 deadline, but programming was not disrupted. The terms of that agreement were not disclosed.

The disputes are part of a sea change in the television industry's business model, as programming choices expand and advertising revenues plummet.

Unlike cable networks, which both collect advertising revenue and subscriber fees from pay-TV providers, broadcast networks rely solely on ad income. But as that money is drying up, they are in search of new sources of revenue.

For their part, cable providers say they are cash-strapped as a result of costly efforts to upgrade technology -- and fend off satellite and telecom providers as well as Web-based programming.

The Disney-Cablevision contract expired more than two years ago, a Disney rep confirmed. The companies have extended the agreement each month as talks continue.

Disney had set up a Web site at http://www.saveabc7.com/ while Cablevision's site is at http://cablevision.com/abcTo top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,113.54 61.81 0.36%
Nasdaq 4,456.02 0.00 0.00%
S&P 500 1,983.53 9.90 0.50%
Treasuries 2.47 -0.01 -0.32%
Data as of 3:52am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.52 0.00 0.00%
Apple Inc 94.72 0.78 0.83%
Microsoft Corp 44.83 -0.00 -0.01%
Intel Corp 34.79 0.73 2.14%
Facebook Inc 69.27 -0.13 -0.19%
Data as of Jul 22

Sections

Passion fruit, Mexican cinnamon and Ecuadorian cocoa. From coast to coast, entrepreneurs are brewing craft beers that incorporate Latin flavors. More

One recently retired airline worker on Obamacare said his tax credit for 2014 will return him $3,600 for the year, or 23% of his annual income. He's watching the dueling court rulings closely. More

Ladar Levison, the guy behind Lavabit, is launching Dark Mail to encrypt emails so the NSA doesn't even know who's talking. More

Passion fruit, Mexican cinnamon and Ecuadorian cocoa. From coast to coast, entrepreneurs are brewing craft beers that incorporate Latin flavors. More

Court documents show big support from Detroit employees and retirees for a turnaround plan that should help the city emerge quickly from bankruptcy. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.