After an ongoing dispute between Disney (ABC’s parent company) and cable TV provider Cablevision failed to be resolved, the network was pulled at midnight on Saturday, Dec. 6. The dispute wasn’t settled until Sunday night at 8:43 p.m, almost fifteen minutes after the Academy Awards had already started. Until then, 3.1 million Cablevision subscribers were unable to get ABC.
The dispute was ongoing for two years (after the previous contract between the two companies expired), as Disney wanted the cable TV provider to pay for carriage of WABC-TV New York. Disney finally put their foot down in January, threatening to pull their ABC signal from Cablevision’s lineup.
Fierce words came from Disney’s Charissa Gilmore, who had this to say in an Associated Press article: “Cablevision has once again betrayed its subscribers. Cablevision pocketed almost $8 billion last year, and now customers aren’t getting what they pay for … again.”
Cablevision’s argument was that it already pays more than $200 million to Disney for programming, and that the additional $40 million Disney demanded was excessive. Terms of the agreement which got the Oscars on late were not disclosed.
The “win” for Disney may end up being beneficial for other broadcast networks who are also seeking compensation for their programming. The previous contract between ABC and Cablevision, (according to the AP article), gave away ABC programming for free.
The result of the dispute could also have some bearing on Disney’s contract with giant Time Warner Cable which expires in August, 2010. Interestingly enough, TMC sent an email to subscribers in the New York area today saying that their ABC access was not yet at risk.