The World Series is around the corner but Fox and Cablevision remain far apart in their stalled negotiations over retransmission fees, meaning that some 3 million Cablevision customers in the Philadelphia and New York metropolitan areas could miss the Fall Classic between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants.
And, while Cablevision has called for arbitration in the fee battle, Fox owner News Corp. had adamantly refused and the two sides remain far, far apart.
Cablevision has said Fox is seeking $150 million a year for its signal, a number Fox disputes, saying only that it wants "fair compensation." The $150 million is more than Cablevision pays for ABC, CBS and NBC combined, Cablevision has said.
The dispute also isn't likely to be resolved with the help of the FCC, which made an attempt to get the two sides talking last week with a phone call from Chairman Julius Genachowski to the CEOs of both companies, and a letter from the agency that said it was "deeply concerned" about the spat and asked for information about talks.
The agency has an opening to involve itself in the talks only if it decides the negotiations aren't being conducted in good faith.
And that, Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Rebecca Arbogast told Bloomberg, is a long shot.
"It would be extraordinary for (the FCC) to order Fox to put programming back on," she said. "It's going to be tough to find a lack of good faith in negotiating. What they're fighting over is the money."
Cablevision isn't the only operator doing battle with Fox. Dish Network could see 3 million of its subscribers lose the Fox lineup, including hits like Glee!, when its deal with the network ends Oct. 31.
"I'm sure Dish is looking to see if Cablevision can get the government to intervene for them," Kaufman Bros analyst Todd Mitchell told Bloomberg. "But, Fox has said they're willing to go dark if they don't get what they want."
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Fox, Cablevision remain at odds over retransmission fees