Fox May Cease Howling At Midnight
While some areas of the country will hear the bang of fireworks as 2010 arrives tonight, other areas -- served by Time Warner Cable -- will likely hear a brief "pfffft" if they are watching the celebrations on Fox broadcasting, even as their screens go dark at the same instant. Published reports on Wednesday suggested that the broadcaster and the cable company remain far apart on a retransmission-consent deal. On Thursday, Chase Carey, the COO of News Corp, which owns Fox Broadcasting, said in a memo to the network's staff that a "signal interruption" was likely to occur at midnight tonight. He later rejected a proposal that the dispute with Time Warner Cable be submitted to binding arbitration. Without a deal, viewers in 14 cities where Fox owns television stations will need a rooftop antenna or indoor "rabbit ears" to pick up Fox's telecast of the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day, the Cotton Bowl on Saturday and the final regular season NFL games on Sunday (not to mention Sunday's episode of The Simpsons ). In addition to the Fox broadcast network, cable channels FX, Speed, Fuel, Fox Reality, Fox Soccer and Fox Sports en Español, as well as several regional sports networks are affected by the current negotiations. (A separate agreement covers the Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network.) Meanwhile, in a statement to the Los Angeles Times , the Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday strongly backed Fox's position. Disney, which owns the ABC network, claimed that "cable operators pay only about 25 dollars a month for all of the programming on the basic and expanded basic tiers, and they sell this to consumers for some $60 to $70 dollars." Fox reportedly is seeking $1.00 per subscriber per month from Time Warner. By contrast, Disney's own ESPN sports channel is said to rake in $4.00 per subscriber.