Fox, Cablevision dispute stretches into third day

NEW YORK (AP) – The dispute between Fox and Cablevision that left 3 million cable subscribers in the New York area without Fox programming over the weekend has stretched into its third day.

Fox, owned by owned by News Corp., and Cablevision Systems Corp. said talks Monday morning did not bring a new agreement on how much Cablevision will pay to carry the network.

The dispute has led to the highest-profile blackout over broadcast fees in years, leaving Cablevision subscribers without access to Sunday’s New York Giants game. And with the next round of talks planned for Tuesday, fans of “House,” the medical drama that’s among Fox’s highest-rated shows, will likely miss the latest episode Monday night.

This type of fight has become more common. Broadcasters want more money from cable and satellite providers so they don’t have to rely as much on advertising, which, as the recession illustrated, can be a volatile source of income.

Cablevision and other subscription TV providers have resisted paying higher fees.

The blackouts that sometimes result have started to draw attention from lawmakers and consumer advocates.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, pledged to introduce legislation intended to prevent broadcasters from pulling a signal when a retransmission agreement expires without a new one to take its place.

New Jersey’s U.S. senators, Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski calling on the FCC to help speed negotiations.

“We are deeply troubled that consumers are repeatedly being used as pawns in these programming disputes,” they said.

Fox and Cablevision also traded recriminations.

Cablevision spokesman Charles Schueler again called for binding arbitration to settle the dispute, a step Fox has resisted.

“When broadcasters like News Corp. remove their signals, they hurt viewers in an attempt to gain business leverage,” Schueler said in a statement.

Fox accused Cablevision of demanding “preferential treatment” and rejecting “the same fair terms that have been accepted by other providers in the market.”

AP Technology Writer Joelle Tessler contributed to this report.

The Associated Press