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UPDATE: Last-Minute Extension Agreement Between Comcast & DISH Keeps E! & Style

Nellie Andreeva

Hours before DISH Network’s carriage agreement with Comcast’s E! and Style was to to expire at midnight, threatening a blackout of the two cable networks on DISH, the two sides have agreed to a short-term extension. The deal is “in hopes of reaching a long term solution,” E! and Style said in a statement.

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Comcast’s E! and Style Face Blackout On Dish Network In Carriage Dispute

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: The countdown to New Year’s eve is on, and so are the countdowns to a couple of possible channel blackouts as a number of carriage agreements expire at midnight on Dec. 31. Comcast’s E! and Style just issued a statement warning viewers that the two networks may go dark on DISH Network. Also tomorrow night, another satcaster, DirecTV, could drop the Golf Channel. Additionally, Sinclair’s 33 broadcast stations face blackout on Time Warner Cable systems as the two companies continue to be at odds over retransmission consent fees. Meanwhile, another station group, Hearst, just reached a last-minute agreement with DirecTV, so its 29 broadcast stations will remain on the DirecTV systems into the new year. Here is E! and Style’s statement:

We are in active negotiations with DISH Network.  We are trying to reach a fair agreement, however, it is our belief they will once again turn their backs on their subscribers by dropping the networks and holding E! and Style fans hostage. In actively choosing to discontinue these two networks, Dish is denying their subscribers E!, the ultimate network for entertainment fans with marquee January events from exclusive coverage of Red Carpet season to the premiere of the new season of the Kardashian show Kourtney & Kim Take NY, and Style, the home of transformations, from fashion, to beauty to home, featuring all-new seasons of

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Cablevision And Fox Spar Over ‘Good Faith’ Negotiation

Nellie Andreeva

Cablevision and Fox have until end of day today to file documents with the FCC proving that they have been negotiating in good faith in their carriage dispute that has kept Fox blacked out in 3 million Cablevision homes for the past 10 days. Cablevision has already sent its response, in which it defends its negotiating tactic, accuses Fox in bad faith negotiations and urges the FCC to intervene with the World Series coverage on Fox only 2 days away. Fox, which is yet to file, issued a statement blasting Cablevision’s accusations. Here are an excerpt from Cablevision’s FCC filing and Fox’s response: Read More »

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UPDATE: Cablevision-Fox War Of Words Intensifies As Political Pressure Mounts

Nellie Andreeva

Here is a brief recap of the events on Day 4 of the Fox blackout on Cablevision that has affected some 3 million  homes in the New York area.

All quiet on the actual negotiations front: “Fox and Cablevision held a short phone call today,” Fox said. “No material progress was made and we remain far apart. Both sides agreed to continue talking tomorrow.” But in the public space and in Washington, the spat created a storm, with more and more politicians weighing in. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) today sent FCC chairman Julius Genachowski a copy of legislation he is drafting, which would mandate that retrans disputes be taken to a third party arbitrator and would put enough safe guards to prevent network blackouts in such disputes. In turn, Genachowski today issued his most sternly-worded statement on the issue yet, in which he said he called the CEOs of the two companies and urged them to negotiate in good faith and reach a deal, though he stopped short of getting the FCC to intervene as some have asked. ”I am deeply troubled that Cablevision and Fox are spending more time attacking each other through ads and lobbyists than sitting down at the negotiating table,” Genachowski said. “The time for petty gamesmanship is over.” Read More »

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AT&T U-Verse Drops Hallmark Channels

Nellie Andreeva

The impasse in the negotiations between AT&T U-Verse and Crown Media, the parent company of the Hallmark Channel and the Hallmark Movie Channel, over a new carriage agreement resulted in the two channels gong dark for 2.3 million subscribers at 12:01 AM EDT tonight when the two sides’ previous deal expired. Here are the statements by AT&T and Hallmark Channels:

AT&T: We are very disappointed that Hallmark has refused to provide AT&T and its customers with a fair deal one that is no worse than similarly-sized and smaller providers and refused to adhere to key obligations under our current deal. We offered to extend the current deal while talks continued, and Hallmark rejected that offer. We don’t want customers to lose their programming, but we believe strongly that our customers should not have to pay more than their fair share for Hallmark’s channels, which is exactly what Hallmark is demanding.”

AT&T U-verse will replace the two Hallmark channels with a free preview of programming from Starz Kids & Family and Turner Classic Movies. According to Crown, negotiations hit a standstill as of Aug. 26.

Hallmark Channels is willing to re-start negotiations toward the distribution agreement as long as they are fair and in good faith. “I was stunned by the apparent disregard for the facts in AT&T’s recent statement regarding our negotiations,” said Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Hallmark Channels. ”However, if they are really serious, my team and I are ready

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Disney And Time Warner Cable Have Made “Significant Progress” In Carriage Dispute

Nellie Andreeva

It looks like the negotiations between the Walt Disney Co and Time Warner Cable for a new carriage agreement may not go down to the wire after all. On IHaveChoices.com, the website Disney launched last month in response to TWC’s RollOverOrGetTough.com, the company has posted the following statement.

The Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner Cable have made significant progress in our negotiations for continued distribution of ABC, Disney and ESPN networks and services. We are now focusing all our attention on a successful conclusion of these efforts prior to the September 2 deadline.

UPDATE Sunday AM: TWC issued an almost identical statement on its site RollOverOrGetTough. Additionally, both companies have toned down rhetoric on their sites and have pulled attack advertising, a clear sign they consider an agreement pretty much a done deal. Among the issues at hand were retransmission consent fees for 4 ABC O&O stations sought by Disney, increases in carriage fees for the company’s cable channels ESPN, Disney Channel and ABC Family, a deal for new channel Disney Jr., which will replace SoapNet, as well as fees for Web-based ESPN3.com.

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Web Is New Battleground In Carriage Fights

Nellie Andreeva

Roll Over Or Get Tough… I Have Choices… Fighting 4 You… All sound like campaign slogans. cable warsAnd they are, but not for a political race: they are slogans used by cable companies and networks in more and more public battles over carriage agreements. This trend of launching a website to rally public opinion intensified in December, about a week before Time Warner’s and Fox’s agreement was about to expire. TWC launched RollOverOrGetTough.com, followed immediately by Fox’s KeepFoxOn.com. After the two sides reached a new deal on New Year’s Day, TWC’s site went dormant until the company reactivated it earlier this week as part of preparation for the upcoming standoff with Disney over ABC, ESPN, and other cable networks. (Their current agreement expires on September 2nd.) Disney’s response was a new site, IHaveChoices.com, which went live today, urging viewers in TWC markets to switch providers ahead of the Sept. 2 deadline.

This is the earliest I’ve seen companies involved in carriage negotiations start campaigning, a possible indication that the battle will be tough. For now, the two sides are actively talking with no signs of impasse. But they have checkered past (anyone remembers the ABC blackout on TWC systems during May sweep in 2000?) and the issue of retransmission consent fees for broadcast stations’ signal is a thorny one. In fact, also this week, TWC, along with most leading cable and satellite providers, telcos and a couple of cable channels announced the … Read More »

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