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Cablevision, Scripps Exchange Barbs In Contract Dispute
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Cablevision, Scripps Exchange Barbs In Contract Dispute - 05-January-2010, 06:54

With Food Network and HGTV still unavailable on Cablevision systems, the parties' contract dispute is become more public.
As the contracts expired on Dec. 31, Scripps Networks Interactive, the parent of Food Network and HGTV, pulled their signal, with the dawning of 2010. Since then, there haven't been any new negotiations and the channel positions on Cablevision systems have included customer alerts, featuring the logos of the programmer and its two networks.
Last night, Cablevision issued a new statement reiterating that it wanted to keep presenting the networks, while the negotiation process continued.
"Cablevision offered Scripps the ability to continue delivering HGTV and Food Network to our customers while we negotiated a new agreement. This is common practice in the cable industry, and such an extension occurred in the recent dispute between Time Warner Cable and the Fox Network, and in Scripps' own negotiations with Time Warner Cable," Cablevision said.
"But instead, with virtually no warning, Scripps took the extraordinary step of flipping a switch and removing its channels from Cablevision - effectively holding their own viewers hostage in order to pursue a more than 200 percent fee increase from Cablevision and our customers. The channels where HGTV and Food Network appeared on Cablevision remain available, and if Scripps really cared about their viewers Scripps could put their programming back while we negotiate a new agreement. We believe it was irresponsible for Scripps to take the channels off, and it is irresponsible for them not to put the channels back on."
Scripps responded with its own statement, which began thusly: "Cablevision simply is not telling the truth."
The programmer went on to day it "has been trying to have productive negotiations with Cablevision for more than six months, but to no avail. Repeated requests to sit down together to discuss a fair market price for our networks have been rejected - even as recently as Sunday afternoon."
Scripps also addressed Cablevision as trying "to characterize our rate increases as exorbitant and our negotiating strategies as unusual or unethical. Yet, every other cable and satellite provider in the country has willingly and professionally renegotiated a fair market rate for the rights to carry these popular networks. That's why both networks can still be seen on every other cable, satellite and telecom system in the country except Cablevision.
Scripps again pointed out that Cablevision had been paying it about 25 cents per subscriber for the two networks, a "substantially lower than rates earned by other, individual top 10 cable networks and considerably less than rates Cablevision pays itself for less popular networks that it owns."
Scripps acknowledged that short-term contract extensions are often granted, "but only when the two parties are engaged in productive negotiations and there has been substantive agreement between them. Cablevision's offer was take-it-or-leave-it, and would still make Food Network - a Top 10 network - one of the lowest paid channels on its lineup.
Scripps concluded by stating "we have been and remain ready and willing to negotiate. But until they will step forward in good faith, it's Cablevision that's holding their customers hostage."
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