Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cox Communications Customers Left In Dark Over WPIX Blackout

The dispute between Cablevision Systems Corp. and the Tribune Co. over increased retransmission fees has spilled over to subscribers of at least one other cable system here in Connecticut and possibly others.

When Cablevision blacked out the Tribune Co.’s retransmission feed of WPIX at around noon Friday, it also caused subscribers of Cox Communications’ Meriden system to lose access to the New York City television channel as well. Cox only system in the New Haven area serves customers in Cheshire, Meriden and Southington.

Dana Alexander Nolfe, a spokeswoman for Cox Communications in New England, said the loss of WPIX on the company’s Meriden system was accidental.

“WPIX’s feed into Connecticut is shared with Cablevision, Cox ... and at least one other cable provider,” Nolfe said. “When the blackout of WPIX by Cablevision occurred Friday, it affected not only Cablevision subscribers, but our Meriden subscribers as well. We are working to restore WPIX to our Meriden customers and apologize for the inconvenience.”

Estimates as to when WPIX might be restored to those Cox customers were not immediately available.
Subscribers to Cox’s two other Connecticut cable systems in Enfield and Manchester were not affected by the blackout, she said.

Susan Israel is a Cox Communications subscriber who lives in the Meriden service area and spent much of Friday getting frustrated by her cable company’s response to the problem.

“I turned on WPIX Friday and got The Style Network,” Israel said in Twitter posts, referring to programming that Cablevision was airing in place of shows carried by WPIX.

“I am furious; I need my New York City news fix," she said. "I called Cox and they said they didn’t know anything about it.”

Clayton Collier said that it is wrong for Cablevision to hold its subscribers hostage in its dispute with Tribune.

"You can't black out your customers just because you're having trouble negotiating," said Collier, who lives on Long Island and is a Cablevision subscriber. "Cablevision is screwing its customers over."

Cablevision also blacked out two other Tribune Co. broadcast properties, Hartford-based WCCT and WPHL in Philadelphia, which is carried by some Cablevision systems in parts of New Jersey.

Cablevision released the following statement about its decision to black out WPIX from its systems.

“Tribune is in bankruptcy and the greed of their new hedge fund owners caused this blackout," the company said. "It is wrong for Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo Gordon & Co. and other hedge funds to demand tens of millions of dollars in new fees from Cablevision customers to solve Tribune’s financial problems. In the face of difficult economy, Cablevision has held the line on rates, with no increase since late 2010 – unique in the industry.  Tribune and its hedge fund owners should work with us to reach an agreement.”

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Business Mobiles

October 3, 2012 at 1:15 AM 

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