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Sunday, October 17, 2010

News Corp. Pulls Its Channels off Cablevision, Stirs Emotions in Fairfield

News Corp. Pulls Its Channels Off Cablevision, Stirs Emotions in Fairfield
(Appeared on Fairfield 10/16) 
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – Baseball fans in Fairfield are a bit on edge today finding News Corporation had pulled its channels off Cablevision after the company’s programming contract expired and new talks had hit an impasse, threatening the broadcast of baseball playoffs on Fox 5 and My9.

Notably, subscribers may be prevented from seeing Game 1 of Major League Baseball’s National League Championship Series pitting the Philadelphia Phillies against the San Francisco Giants Saturday night.

Viewers surfing to these channels were met with a looped message from Cablevision calling News Corp.’s action “an act of corporate greed” and indicating the media giant was demanding “outrageous fees” to carry its programming. The message encouraged viewers to call an 877 line to tell News Corp. it’s “unfair to hold their own customers hostage.” News Corp.’s TV9, WTIC 25 and WCTX 24 are still being broadcast.

Local reaction ranged from indifference to outrage and even disgust at this corporate jockeying at the expense of cable viewers. “It won’t affect us much as we have cable, DirecTV and a sports package, so we’ll have access no matter what,” said the bartender on duty at the Sea Grape. “We also have more Yankees fans and college football fans here today, so there’s little interest in the NLCS.”

Added Sea Grape patron Don from Trumbull, “I understand what’s going on. They apparently have their own agendas and are barking at each other. They need to stop all this and let people enjoy their sports.” Standing beside him, Geoff Bagshaw, 31, from Boston, said, “I’m not from this area but if I was, I would be upset that I couldn’t watch the game and what promises to be a great pitching duel.”

At Archie Moore’s, Gary Goldfield, 50, from Bridgeport, said, “I’m not worried about not having these channels as I can get everything I want on the WTIC affiliate. If I couldn’t, I’d be very upset.” He added, “If what Cablevision says is true, then it’s about greed at FOX. The channels are holding the cable companies hostage. Cable is caught in the middle – and satellite and other service providers, too.”

Sitting nearby in a booth with four-year-old son Ryan, Martin Blake, 41, from Weston, said, “I was planning to watch Game 1. Fortunately, I have the capability of watching on another channel, so this won’t upset my night. In general, though, it’s a shame that these companies do this before a major event, making fans, who are also their customers, suffer. If they were truly concerned about their customers, they’d work it out.” Piped up Ryan, “As long as I can see my Nick Jr., we’re ok.”

At Colony Grill, Steven Feinstein, 57, of Westport, said, “That would be upsetting if we couldn’t watch the game tonight and, more importantly, football tomorrow. I think overall that if you’re buying cable services, programming should be available. It’s not right that customers are being used as pawns.”

For more information and to voice their opinion, viewers can call 1-877-NO-TV-TAX or go online to