Cablevision-Fox dispute drives fans to drink

Amid the pontificating politicians and the verbal barbs being tossed by Cablevision Systems and Fox Networks in their ongoing retransmission feud, there's another story brewing beneath the surface. The argument has driven sports fans to drink--or at least to places where drinks are served.

Fans were reportedly five rows deep watching one of 19 flat screen TVs at Michael's Sports Café in Fishkill, N.J. which played the Giants game on its screens Sunday. Normally a Cablevision subscriber, Michael's had picked up a DirecTV package when it found the game wouldn't be on the local cable system.

"We probably had 20 or 30 people who said they were home and couldn't get the game," reported Sue David, the establishment's manager. "The phone was ringing when people realized they couldn't get it at home."

On a more serious note, the two sides continued to wrangle over retransmission fees with Cablevision calling for arbitration and Fox resisting. In a switch for the cable industry, the MSO actually appears to be winning the public relations battle as "mounting anger at rising bills and more frequent blackouts may play to Cablevision's advantage," said Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett in a note to his clients.

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