Cablevision-Fox fight stirs up net neutrality issues

Blacked-out Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) subscribers seeking to go over-the-top or around the bend to get Fox Networks programming via the Internet have reportedly been thwarted by Fox parent News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA) which blocked access to its Fox websites, including Hulu.

This not only brought into question the whole OTT thing, but gathered up lawmakers to thump drums about net neutrality.

"The tying of cable TV subscription to access to Internet fare freely available to other consumers is a very serious concern," Congressman Edward Markey wrote to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. "Consumers are losing their freedom to access the Internet content of their choice--through no fault of their own--and this is patently anti-consumer."

Fox, as anticipated, pulled its networks from Cablevision's lineup at 12:01 a.m. Saturday causing Cablevision subs without over the air reception capabilities to miss the weekend's sports coverage of local teams, including MLB playoffs feature the Yankees and Phillies and NFL football with the Giants and Eagles. This deprivation was just too much for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who promised to introduce legislation to keep signals up and running until "the FCC evaluates the last best offer ... and then recommends or does not recommend binding arbitration during which carriage would continue."

Cablevision, itself, has been banging the arbitration drum but Fox has been turning a deaf ear.

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