UPDATE (3/7): On Sunday night, ABC programming was restored to 3 million Cablevision customers in the N.Y. tri-state area at 8:43 p.m. after the two sides resolved the dispute over retransmission fees detailed in the original post and updates below. The network had pulled its programming at midnight on Saturday.
ABC-Disney followed through with its threat tonight by pulling the New York-area WABC-TV from Cablevision after it failed to reach a re-transmission agreement with the cable giant. Some 3 million Cablevision customers in Long Island, Westchester, Brooklyn, and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey were affected.
Rebecca Campbell, President and General Manager, WABC-TV, released this statement: “Cablevision has once again betrayed its subscribers by losing ABC7, the most popular station in the tri-state area. This follows two years of negotiations, during which we worked diligently, up to the final moments, to reach an agreement. Cablevision pocketed almost $8 billion last year, and now customers aren’t getting what they pay for…again. It’s time for Jim Dolan and the Dolan Family Dynasty to finally step up, be fair, and do what’s right for our viewers.”
Cablevision’s exec VP of communications Charles Schueler released a statement in response: “It is now painfully clear to millions of New York area households that Disney CEO Bob Iger will hold his own ABC viewers hostage in order to extract $40 million in new fees from Cablevision. We call on Bob Iger to immediately return ABC to Cablevision customers while we continue to work to reach a fair agreement.”
ABC began warning customers last week that they could miss the Oscars because of the stalemate. Affected subscribers can still access WABC-TV for free by going old-school with an antenna.
UPDATE: Campbell released another statement today: “Cablevision’s legendary greed and disregard for the needs of their customers continues. Now the only way for their subscribers to get ABC7 is to ditch Cablevision and switch to a provider that cares about them. Cablevision customers who want ABC7 should make that switch now.”
UPDATE: Cambell released another statement: “We have sent Cablevision a new proposal, and are awaiting their response. If Cablevision is serious about doing right by their customers and returning ABC7 and its programming to them, then they need to act now. The ball is in their court.”
UPDATE: Cablevision said it would agree to binding arbitration with ABC Disney in order to return ABC to Cablevision customers, as suggested earlier today by Senator John Kerry and other political leaders. In a statement, Cablevision’s executive vice president of communications, Charles Schueler, said, “We remain deeply disappointed that ABC Disney has put their own financial interests above their viewers and pulled the plug on ABC…. Thus, Cablevision will agree to binding arbitration and calls upon Disney CEO Bob Iger to immediately return ABC to New York area viewers, and join us in binding arbitration to resolve this matter fairly. We have communicated our position to the highest levels of the FCC and urged the agency to appropriately involve itself in this process.”