Fox blacks out Web content amid Cablevision retransmission dispute

Hardly lost amid the fury and fun of the Cablevision-Fox Networks dispute is Fox's short but deadly action to remove its Web content from reach when it briefly blacked out its Fox.com and Hulu content for Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) subscribers.

The action was the first indication that Fox isn't all that pure when it comes to "free" over-the-top television and that it expects to be part of its programming deals with cable operators. The blackout drew the expected responses, including "serious concern" from Congressman Edward Markey of Massachusetts.

The Internet blockade proved a technological and public relations boondoggle when its impact went beyond Cablevision video subscribers and Fox had to give it up. "When we realized we were affecting non-Cablevision video subscribers, we quickly altered our position," said Julie Henderson, a spokeswoman for Fox's parent company News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA)

Fox has not restored access to Fox broadcast or cable channels, which have been off the air for Cablevision subcribers since Saturday, creating a flow of vitriol from both sides in the dispute and angst among viewers who missed an NFL weekend and multiple MLB playoff games featuring hometown heroes (take your pick) the New York Yankees or Philadelphia Phillies.

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