8,000 subscribers flee Cablevision during Fox war

Putting things in perspective, Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) lost a small town's worth of subscribers as a result of its retransmission war with News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA).

Looking at it another way, though, the 8,000 subs that left the MSO for greener satellite or FiOS pastures are a drop in the proverbial New York metro bucket the operator serves and a blip on the screen compared to the 275,000 basic subs who left Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) during the third quarter. And those Comcast subs weren't even subjected to a sports blackout during the World Series.

The subscriber loss breaks down to about 500 desertions a day as the two media monsters butted heads over how much Fox programming is worth--or conversely, how much Cablevision was willing to pay for it. The dispute was finally settled when Cablevision ran out of options to get government intervention and caved to most of News Corp.'s demands, apparently ending up paying the whole $150 million a year retail price Fox was asking.

While Cablevision apparently lost the war, it may have set the stage for another battleground as its dispute--conducted in the highly visible New York metro area during the World Series--did draw attention in Congress and with the FCC, most prominently with Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who promised to spearhead a Congressional rethink of the whole retransmission process because, as he wrote to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, "the current system relegates television viewers to pawns."

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