Cablevision subscribers hoping to watch the National League Championship Series Saturday night may need to drive to a neighborhood bar to do so.
A dispute over how much the Bethpage cable operator should pay Fox in fees to carry Fox 5 and My9 led to the removal of both networks from Cablevision's television lineup.
Cablevision, which has about 3 million householders as customers, blames Fox for demanding large increases during an economic slump. Further, the cable company said it has agreed to accept binding arbitration using a third-party mediator to settle the dispute.
In a press release issued this morning, Cablevision said Fox parent News Corp.'s "pattern of destructive tactics has become clear." The release then listed other recent Fox fee disputes, including one with Time Warner late last year.
"They are now threatening to pull their broadcast stations away from Dish Network's 14 million customers in two weeks," Cablevision stated.
To be fair, Cablevision has had its share of contractual disputes, including a three-week battle in January that kept HGTV and Food Network off the air.
Also earlier this year, a Cablevision-ABC squabble forced the Disney network dark for a brief period during the Oscars.
A group of elected officials in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have asked for Fox and Cablevision to settle through arbitration, though Fox seemed cool on the idea.
"We remain willing to negotiate and hope that future talks ultimately will be productive, but as of now Cablevision has declined to counter our most recent proposal," said Mike Hopkins, president, Fox Networks Affiliate Sales and Marketing, in a statement. "Regrettably, their efforts were focused more on calls for government intervention than constructive negotiations."
According to Cablevision, it pays News Corp. about $70 million a year for its channels.
The National League Championship Series starts tonight in Philadelphia. Also threatened: Sunday's New York Giants-Detroit Lions game, scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m.