Main | Sunday, March 07, 2010

Disney Yanks ABC Signal In NYC

The image above was ABC7's misleading final message to NYC last night just before their parent company Disney yanked their signal to Cablevision's three million subscribers. Disney wants a $40M annual chunk of the dough that Cablevision collects for local/basic channels like ABC7 and the cable provider won't pay it. So Disney pulled the plug, not Cablevision, despite what the message implies.
More than 3 million Cablevision customers lost their ABC affiliate tonight and may lose the Academy Awards broadcast as well. It happened at 12:01 AM ET Sunday in this retrans impasse between Disney/ABC and Cablevision, which has tried to personally blame Disney CEO Bob Iger. "It seems their attacks on Bob have not worked," a Disney insider just told me. "They miscalculated his resolve. Bullying and name-calling will not change the fact that cablevision_logoCablevision’s customers are switching to other providers en masse." Indeed, Disney has been urging its WABC-TV viewers to switch to satellite. A source close to Cablevision refuted the claim that viewers were leaving the provider in droves and responded to me, "Disney may thinks it's good business to attack its own viewers and black out the Oscars in NY. They may call it resolve. We call it stupidity."
The two companies have been publicly warring with increasingly nasty commercials about the issue airing every few minutes for the last two weeks. The last time Cablevision battled a network over fees, their NYC customers lost HGTV and the Food Network for six weeks. Industry watchers are surprised that Disney was so bold as to take this action just hours before the Oscars, one of NYC's highest rated shows every year. At the moment, ABC7 is offering instructions on how to get its signal over the air.

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