Cablevision loses New York ABC affiliate for refusing to pay hiked fees

Today, New York's ABC affiliate WABC-7 has pulled its programming from Cablevision, just hours in advance of the 82nd Academy Awards show.

It was no surprise, though. Earlier this month, WABC said it would be pulling its programming from Cablevision if the cable company didn't increase its payments by 20%. Cablevision did not see this as fair, as network television has always been available free over the air and nothing new had been added to warrant the increased cost.

"It is wrong for ABC to demand $40 million in new fees to help pay the salaries and bonuses for top ABC executives," a statement from Cablevision said. "In these difficult and challenging economic times, it is not fair for ABC to force Cablevision and its customers to pay what amounts to a new TV tax for the same programming that is available today for free over the air and on the Internet."

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The cable company started an extensive campaign to rally its subscribers against ABC, including an email writing campaign, a facebook page, and a toll free "No TV Tax" number.

"The FCC is in contact with representatives of both companies and is monitoring the situation closely. Consumers should not suffer due to the inability of these two companies to successfully negotiate a deal. We urge both parties to quickly reach a resolution for the benefit of viewers," Media Bureau Chief of the Federal Communications Commission, William Lake said today.

But for Cablevision subscribers who just want to watch the Oscars tonight, they are going to have to tune in over the air. For customers who may not have a DTV-compliant antenna or who are just sore from the whole thing, Cablevision is also offering all of its iO TV customers the opportunity to choose from its entire slate of on demand movies for free, including 10 movies that are up for Academy Awards tonight.

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