Cablevision customers angered over loss of channels, especially baseball and football on Fox, By Nancy Kriz MONROE - Like many Giants fans, Steve Pavia was not a happy man this past Sunday. And not for the reason you’d think. The Giants won last Sunday’s game at the Meadowlands, beating the Detroit Lions 28-20, allowing the Lions to tie an NFL record-tying 24th straight road loss. But Pavia and untold numbers of people living in the area couldn’t see the game on Fox 5 because of the ongoing dispute between Cablevision - the service provider for three million customers in the New York area - and Fox parent News Corp. over programming fees. In order for Pavia to know what was going on during the game, he had to resort to doing something he hasn’t done for decades: Using the radio. “The last time I had on a radio on a Sunday to listen to a Giants game was when I was 12 years old and Marty Glickman was the announcer for the Giants,” said Pavia, who lives in Monroe. “I pay $100 a month for cable and we can’t watch the game.” Reasonable vs. unreasonable WNYW and WWOR (Channels 5 and 9), as well as other News Corp. channels, went dark on Oct. 16, after negotiations failed. Cablevision says News Corp. is asking too much for access to 12 channels, including Fox 5 and My 9. It said News Corp. wants to double the yearly rate to $15 million, which it finds unacceptable and unreasonable. Fox says Cablevision is uninterested in what it called News Corp.’s “reasonable proposals.” Cablevision has called for arbitration, which Fox has currently declined. Discussions during this past week proved to be futile. Statements issued by both parties have been fast and furious. Their radio and television advertising campaigns rival those of political candidates bashing each other in hopes of winning the election. “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,” said Fox in a statement posted on its Web site, www.keepfoxon.com. Later in the week, an updated statement added: “The fact is Cablevision does not operate, as other companies do, with their customers’ best interests as their top priority. Instead, they repeatedly look for fights that cause enormous collateral damage. Unfortunately, this damage is directly affecting millions of subscribers who with each passing day are missing some of the best sports, entertainment and news programming available.” Cablevision, on its Web site, www.cablevision.com, disagreed. “News Corp has pulled the plug on their most popular programming, holding viewers hostage until their unreasonable demands are met,” the statement said. “Cablevision has reached agreement with every other major broadcast station, including CBS, NBC, ABC and Univision. But News Corp is demanding more in fees for Fox 5 and My 9 than Cablevision and our customers pay for all of the other broadcast stations combined. We think in these economic times that this is outrageous, especially since Fox 5 and My 9 are available for free over the air, and they make many of their most popular shows available for free on the Internet.” Part of your Sunday taken away’ Pavia, a chiropractor with his practice in Monroe, and a football fan, knows other networks broadcast NFL games. But the games on Fox are just as important because fans want to see what’s going on with other teams and not just their favorites. “You’re having part of your Sunday taken away from you,” he said. “These channels, in the old days, we used to get them for free. Now, all those channels we really don’t care about, we can get. But the ones that used to be free and we want, we can’t watch them.” That makes him and other people, like Chester resident Vince Balsamo, angry. Balsamo, a patient in Pavia’s practice, was so upset that his initial comments would not be suitable for publication. Then, taking a breath, Balsamo expressed his displeasure over the dispute. “I was very annoyed,” he said. “I thought they’d fix it by the time the Giants game was going to be on. I was going nuts. I wanted to rip the TV out. I was in a bad mood. My family stayed away from me. I ended up listening to the game via a hookup in the Internet.” No Yankees, Glee or Seinfeld re-runs It’s bad enough that a portion of the weekly NFL games are not be available to watch on TV, both men noted. But if the Yankees end up getting into the World Series and local fans can’t watch the games - to be broadcast on Fox, well
there’ll be some very unhappy people, and that’s putting it mildly. “If those games were on Fox this week, they’d be torching Cablevision,” said Pavia. “I don’t even know who’s wrong and who’s right. It doesn’t make a difference to me. I pay the bill to Cablevision. They should be fining these people every day (the channels are not on the air.) The Yankees are big. If they make it to the World Series, it’s going to get nasty around here.” Balsamo agreed, adding: “I’m switching to Verizon ViOS as soon as it comes out (to his area). It’s ridiculous and they want us to feel sorry for them. I think the FCC should step up and revoke both of their licenses.” Monroe resident Phyllis Feller, who works in Pavia’s office, reminded a visitor that it’s not just the loss of sports that has Cablevision customers upset. “I’m missing Dr. Oz,’” said Feller. “I love Dr. Oz.’ That’s the one show I enjoy. I’m mad about that. Then, there’s Glee.’ And, I’m missing my Seinfeld’ reruns. I need my comedy at night. I’ve been going to bed earlier now.” Others chimed in the conversation as well. “Don’t forget House,’ we’re missing House’ too,” said Celesta Dalcortivo of Monroe, who also works in Pavia’s office, as she stuck her head in the exam room. The dispute is the latest in Cablevision’s challenges over programming fees. An agreement was reached in time with ABC7, allowing the Oscars to be broadcast. An agreement was also eventually reached with Scripps Networks, returning HGTV and Food Network to the cable system, though after a lengthy time frame. “We’re like little pawns in this,” said Pavia. “It’s still here
the dish on top of my house. I may have to hook it up again.” Balsamo, who realized that day he also can’t watch one of his favorite shows, “Hell’s Kitchen,” during the dispute is doing his best to remain composed as the clash continues. “I will keep my wits about me,” he said with a laugh. “There’s nothing like planning a vendetta in my mind to keep calm.”
I need an adjustment (to my back) and a tranquilizer.” Vince Balsamo of Chester, talking about his reaction to not having access to sports on Fox 5 during the Cablevision/News Corp. dispute.
It’s just hurting customers. We pay a lot for cable. If this were any other type of business, they’d still be providing the service to customers during the negotiations.” Phyllis Feller of Monroe, speaking about her displeasure at the conduct of both Fox and Cablevision.