They finally pulled the trigger. After Cablevision and WABC-TV didn’t make progress in the their tense negotiations over retransmission Saturday, ABC followed through on its threat to take the station off the Cablevision system on this day of the Academy Awards, according to a report on THR.
But instead of pulling WABC-TV in the nation’s top TV market, the cable operator accidentally took down all broadcast networks on its systems.
Just after the blackout, WABC and Cablevision issued another set of dueling statements pointing fingers at each other for the shutdown.
“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,” said WABC’s general manager Rebecca Campbell. “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.”
In another statement, Cablevision’s Charles Schueler said: “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.”
At the heart of the standoff is the retransmission fees ABC is seeking from Cablevision for the right to carry its flagship New York station. Using the $40 million figure, Cablevision implies that ABC is looking for a fee of $1 dollar per month per subscriber, the same rate Fox wanted in its battle with Time Warner Cable in December.
According to the report, Cablevision’s counteroffer is about 25 cents per month per subscriber.