UPDATES NO OSCARS? Cablevision Subscribers May Lose WABC-TV At 12:01 AM Sunday Due To Yet Another Retrans Impasse

The war of words between Cablevision and Disney/ABC over whether WABC-TV will broadcast past 12:01 AM Sunday or force viewers to miss the Academy Awards heated up today. Now, usually, these retrans impasses solve themselves at the 11th hour. But the clock is ticking down, people:

BETHPAGE, NY, March 5, 2010 – Cablevision Systems Corporation today continued to urge ABC Disney to listen to government officials and consumers and not pull the plug on WABC at midnight on Saturday, March 6, 2010 while the negotiations continue. Cablevision has announced that it will leave the WABC Channel position open and available and that the switch is in Disney President and CEO Bob Iger’s hands.

Charles Schueler, Cablevision’s executive vice president of communications, said:

“There is one man who is going to decide whether New York gets to see the Oscars, and that’s Disney President and CEO Bob Iger.  Cablevision already pays Disney more than $200 million a year and now they are demanding $40 million more.  We call on Bob Iger to stop holding his own viewers hostage, end his threats to pull the plug on ABC at midnight and instead work with us to reach a fair agreement.  The switch is in Bob Iger’s hands.”

Cablevision customers should urge ABC Disney not to pull their programming by calling 1-877-NO-TV-TAX, visiting http://www.cablevision.com/abc or joining its Facebook group “Cablevision Viewers Say: No New Fees, ABC!”

Here’s the latest WABC-TV statement:

In response to Cablevision’s ongoing campaign to mislead their consumers rather than focusing on reaching a fair agreement with ABC7 for retransmission consent, Rebecca S. Campbell, president and general manager, WABC-TV, has released the following statement:

“It’s time for Cablevision to stop spinning this issue and get serious about doing right by their customers. The fact is that, over and over again, Cablevision picks fights with programmers, and it is Cablevision subscribers who suffer the loss. The inconvenient truth about Cablevision is that it pockets hundreds of millions of dollars in subscriber fees each year by carrying ABC7. Dropping our station would be the latest insult. Their customers should know they have choices: They can switch service now and take their business to a provider that values them and isn’t threatening them with the loss of programming every few months, or get us free-over-the-air.”

ABC7 urges concerned Cablevision concerned viewers to customers tell Cablevision “Lose my Shows, Lose my Business” by calling 1-877-990-ABC7 or visiting http://www.saveABC7.com.

Cablevision claims they want to resolve this issue and not subject their customers to the loss of ABC7. However all of their offers have been designed to be rejected. For two years WABC has been working in good faith to try and reach an agreement that acknowledges the station’s value financially and as a key resource to the community. This is value Cablevision already charges their customers up to $18 each month for access to. It is value they further recognize in their own channels such as Sundance, for which they charge other cable and satellite operators to carry. It is patently unfair and unsustainable for Cablevision to pay fees to less popular channels and to pay fees to its own channels, while refusing to pay reasonable value to the most watched and most community-involved channel in New York.