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Govt. Won't End Cablevision-Fox Fight
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (October 26, 2010) -- The government is unlikely to intervene in the Cablevision/Fox fee fight that threatens to deny Cablevision's three million subscribers the ability to watch the World Series.

That's according to an article by Bloomberg News.

Since October 15, Cablevision viewers have been without Fox's local stations because the cable operator has been unable to reach a new agreement with Fox. The network and Cablevision yesterday submitted reports to the Federal Communications Commission detailing their positions in the negotiations; the reports were requested by the FCC.

The wire service quotes Wall Street analysts as saying that even if the FCC finds that one side has acted in 'bad faith' in the talks, the agency likely does not have the power to intervene.
"There’s a real limit to what the FCC can do," one analyst told the wire service. "It would be extraordinary for them to order Fox to put programming back on."

Saying that Fox has refused to compromise on its demands, Cablevision has urged the FCC to order a third-party, binding arbitration to resolve the matter. But the analysts tell Bloomberg that they don't believe the law would permit the FCC to order arbitration.

The FCC refused to comment yesterday, writes Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, despite calls for arbitration from dozens of congressmen, Congress is unlikely to act because it's currently not in session.

The continuing dispute also threatens to deny Dish Network viewers access to Fox programming by week's end. If Dish does not sign a new pact with Fox by November 1, it will lose the right to carry Fox's local stations. (Dish has already been without Fox's 19 regional sports channels, FX and the National Geographic Channel since October 1 in a different contract dispute.)

“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. With or without government intervention, Fox is most likely going to take the same hard line with Dish.”

Fox's coverage of game one of the World Series starts Wednesday night.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.

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