The war of words between ABC and Cablevision continued on Friday, with the cable giant reportedly saying that only Disney President and CEO Bob Iger can be the one to save WABC-TV customers from missing tomorrow’s Oscar telecast. Some 3 million New York-area Cablevision customers in Long Island, Westchester, Brooklyn, and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey could lose access to ABC programming if the cable company doesn’t reach a re-transmission agreement with the network, which wants $40 million a year to carry WABC-TV — or $1 per subscriber. ABC is the one threatening to pull the signal unless a new deal is reached.
“Cablevision already pays Disney more than $200 million a year and now they are demanding $40 million more,” according to a published statement by Charles Schueler, Cablevision’s executive vice president of communications. “We call on Bob Iger to stop holding his own viewers hostage, end his threats to pull the plug on ABC at midnight and instead work with us to reach a fair agreement. The switch is in Bob Iger’s hands.”
Rebecca Campbell, the President and General Manager of WABC-TV, responded with this statement: “It’s an insult to Cablevision customers that with literally hours to go before losing access to ABC7, Cablevision is personally attacking Disney executives. Does Cablevision have such little regard for its subscribers’ intelligence to think that they don’t know a negotiation takes two parties? The inconvenient truth is that ABC7 has been prepared to reach a fair agreement for two years and Cablevision has refused to do its part. If Cablevision CEO James Dolan and the Dolan Family Dynasty have any regard at all for the millions of customers who pay hard earned dollars for their service, they will order their troops to stop slinging mud and start cutting a deal.”
If ABC follows through with its threat to pull the signal, affected subscribers can still access WABC-TV for free by going old-school with an antenna.