Cablevision, WABC lockout ends in time for Oscars

About 3.1 million New Yorkers lost WABC for most of yesterday when Cablevision Systems and ABC's parent company could not find middle ground on a retransmission deal. Then, at 8:43 PM, just minutes into the Academy Awards broadcast, the signal returned.

The two sides--involved in a nasty retransmission stare-down that attracted comments from the likes of high profile politicians including U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and John Kerry as well as satellite radio shock jock Howard Stern--had finally brokered a tentative deal where Cablevision would pay 55 to 65 cents per subscriber for WABC. Disney had wanted a buck a sub; Cablevision was countering with 25 cents.

The retransmission wars are just starting for cable operators and broadcasters around the country. Cable operators have been carrying over-the-air signals free for as long as they've been cable operators. Cash-strapped broadcasters now think they should be paid for their services. For example, in an obviously less publicized situation, Charter Communications has said that it is moving Chicago's CBS WBBM-TV from channel 7 to channel 969 on its digital tier in Kenosha, Wis. effective April 20 as part of a settlement to continue carrying the channel.

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