The dispute continues

By The Associated Press
Updated: October 20, 2010

NEW YORK — Some 3,000,000 cable TV subscribers in the New York area were without Fox programming for a fifth day.

The dispute over how much Cablevision will pay to carry the network on its lineup has led to the highest-profile blackout over broadcast fees in years. It has left Cablevision subscribers without access to New York Giants games and the medical drama “House.”

Without a deal Wednesday afternoon, subscribers were poised to miss the fourth National League Championship Series game between the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies.

Cablevision Systems Corp. reiterated calls for binding arbitration to resolve the dispute, something Fox has resisted. Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Despite mounting pressure on the Federal Communications Commission to intervene, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has been careful not to take sides in the dispute even as he has worked behind the scenes to press the companies to reach a deal.

Still, Michael Copps, one of the other two Democrats on the five-member agency, said in a statement Wednesday that the FCC should “take a very serious look at whether ‘good faith’ negotiations are indeed occurring” and “move promptly to protect consumers” if they are not.

The fight between Fox and Cablevision, Copps said, shows that negotiations over programming costs too often degenerate into “a fight between huge moneyed interests to see who can milk who the most — and consumers are left holding an empty pail.”