Cablevision Pulls Food and HGTV from Line-up

Yes616

The Mod Squad
#1
Many people in the NYC area just lost HGTV and the Food Network!

Scripps Pulls HGTV, Food Network From Cablevision's Menu
Affects 3 Million Subscribers In NY, NJ, Conn.


Mike Farrell -- Multichannel News, 1/1/2010 12:47:21 AM

While the battle between Fox Broadcasting and Time Warner Cable appeared to wage on as the new decade rang in, Scripps Networks Interactive said it has pulled its popular Food Network and HGTV channels from more than 3 million Cablevision Systems subscribers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
In a statement issued at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, Scripps said the channels "went off the air on Cablevision systems in New York City, Long Island and the Tri-State Region at midnight New Year's Eve after the cable operator failed to negotiate acceptable rates for the programming distribution rights."
On Cablevision Systems in New Jersey, the MSO is running this message on both HGTV and Food: "We wanted to keep bringing you these channels. We apologize for the inconvenience. For more visit Cablevision. Why? Cablevision has tried to reach a fair agreement."

A similar message was running on Cablevision's system reaching Westchester County, New York.

Food Network's Guy FieriScripps has been reportedly seeking significant increases in carriage fees for Food, which according to SNL Kagan was receiving on average about 9 cents per subscriber per month. The higher rated HGTV was receiving about 12 cents per month, according to SNL Kagan. At the UBS Global Media and Communications conference last month, Scripps Networks chairman and CEO Ken Lowe had said the programmer would seek substantial increases for Food Network.

In a statement, Lowe said that Scripps is enlisting the help of viewers to pressure the MSO to carry the network, encouraging them to log onto I Love Food Network! - News, Updates and More for Fans of Food Network and News, Updates and More for Fans of HGTV for information on how to demand Cablevision put the networks back on the air.
"Viewers love our talent and our shows, which is why Food Network and HGTV rank among the top networks in cable," Lowe said in a statement. "But our valuable networks simply are not being compensated like top ten networks by Cablevision. The distribution rates Cablevision pays for Food and HGTV are among the lowest in the industry."
For its part, Cablevision said in a statement that it is disappointed it could not reach an agreement with Scripps, but will not bow to pressure.
"Unfortunately, Scripps has decided to stop distributing HGTV and Food Network to Cablevision customers upon the expiration of our current agreement at midnight, Dec. 31," Cablevision said in a statement. "We are sorry that Scripps' current financial difficulties are making it impossible for them to continue our relationship on terms that are reasonable for Cablevision and our customers. We wish Scripps well and have no expectation of carrying their programming again, given the dramatic changes in their approach to working with distributors to reach television viewers."
While Scripps has not revealed how much of an increase it is requesting, the programmer said it is currently receiving less than 25 cents per subscriber per month from Cablevision for both channels. The company added that a recent Beta Cable Subscriber study said the average cable customer believes Food Network is worth $1.03 per month and HGTV is worth 73 cents per month. Scripps added that is considerably more than Cablevision is paying and more than SNI is asking on behalf of the networks in current negotiations.
"The rates we are seeking represent a very modest increase when you consider that Food Network and HGTV are among the top networks in all of cable," said SNI executive vice president John Lansing in a statement. "Even with the rate reset we've proposed, about 35 other networks will be receiving higher fees per subscriber than these viewer favorites."
 

Yes616

The Mod Squad
#3
Well we all could see this coming. I know my wife would be furious if this happened to us as these 2 channels are probably in her top 5 "most watched".

It's also true that nobody saw this coming. There was no warning in advance from Cablevision.

Cablevision's Viewers Feel Ignored in Spat

I want my Food Network

By George Spohr
Times Herald-Record
Posted: January 05, 2010 - 2:00 AM

The way John Barbarite of Monticello sees it, Cablevision's battle with the owner of HGTV and The Food Network speaks to a broken business model.

"Until home subscribers can purchase which channels they want and be billed accordingly, cable is only going to get more expensive," Barbarite said. "Cablevision can drop them and the 150-plus other channels I never watch."

Barbarite is one of the thousands of local Cablevision subscribers who, over the weekend, lost HGTV and The Food Network. Cablevision is locked in a battle with Scripps Networks, which produces those channels. Cablevision doesn't want to pay Scripps more money to continue airing HGTV and The Food Network. Scripps Networks says its high-quality content is worth higher rates.

Cablevision said Scripps is demanding a 200 percent fee increase, which would drive up cable customer rates if accepted. For 2010, the average rate increase for subscribers is 3.7 percent, Cablevision spokesman Jim Maiella said.

The company maintains that the HGTV and Food Network channels remain available to Cablevision subscribers if Scripps chooses to turn the programming back on while a contract is worked out.

Scripps said more than six months of negotiations haven't been able to produce an agreement, and its recent requests for sit-down discussions have been rejected. Scripps said Cablevision currently pays about 25 cents per subscriber for the combined networks, and described the fee increase it's asking for as "fair market rate" for popular networks.

"We regret deeply the interruption of service for Cablevision customers who rely on us for quality programming," the company said.

Of the company's 367,000 Hudson Valley subscribers, about one-third live in Orange, Ulster and Dutchess counties. The remainder are primarily in Westchester County.

Pam Kaarlsen of Chester pointed to parallels between Cablevision's spat with Scripps to Time Warner's recent battle with Fox. Kaarlsen says Time Warner did a better job preparing its customers for losing Fox — which ultimately didn't happen — than Cablevision did for losing HGTV and The Food Network.

"For a week or two, all we heard about was the poor Time Warner subscribers who may lose Channel 5," Kaarlsen said. "My own niece, who has Time Warner, ironically said, 'I don't care about Channel 5 as long as they don't touch my food channel.'

"Where was our notice?" she asked. "Time Warner cares enough to warn their customers. Apparently, Cablevision doesn't."

Scripps said more than 80,000 of Cablevision's subscribers have reached out to the company saying they'd be willing to pay more to continue receiving the company's programming.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

gspohr@th-record.com
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#4
There's a lot of this going on lately with negotiations between networks and cable operators. My question is, what's the cause? Are networks fighting tighter costs and lower profit margins or vice versa for cable operators?
 

Yes616

The Mod Squad
#5
I think that cable systems should just provide channels out of the goodness of their hearts. That should keep the basic costs down.

If a channel wants to charge, then be it but I don't want to watch friggin commercials if I have to pay more.

Hmm.. Sounds like a 1979 kind of thought.

Seriously, the problem is there are too many channels! Now I am just guessing numbers here but you will see what I mean. In 1979 there were 100 million viewers watching 3 channels. ABC, CBS and NBC. In 2009 there were 200 million viewers watching 200 different channels.

If you had an average audience rating in 1979, 33 million viewers were looking at your channel. In 2009, you have 1 million viewers looking at your channel unless you are doing something spectacular like for example The Super Bowl that costs.. well I am not going there. But they do get big big bucks for their commercials.

There is only so much advertising $$ to go around so that is why we are paying more these days.

Now here we are in the day of the DVR, (OK it used to be the VCR but it looks so much better now) it makes sense to have less channels with less repeats. Watch some stuff you want to now and watch what was on at 3AM last night at your leasure. You can still watch it. If this kind of thinking became mainstream, 3AM could be considered "Prime Time" and the advertising costs have to go nowhere but down.

But what do I know? I am just the 800 pound gorilla sitting in this forum. :icon_beat:
 

Piggie

Super Moderator
#6
But what do I know? I am just the 800 pound gorilla sitting in this forum. :icon_beat:
Makes me being a pig look skinny! lol

I think you hit one of the major reasons right on the head.

Add to that ad revenue is going down anyway. Two of the 3 commercial broadcasters in Gainesville have both said commercial revenue hit bottom last Oct and hasn't recovered since. So there are even less ad dollars to more channels as Yes points out.

Another factor I think is the networks like FoodNet know that if they stand their ground the cable system will talk the customers into paying a little more. They can let the channel go dead, but in the end you can bet bananas those channels if popular enough will be back with the network winning. Even if they compromise the network still gets more. It's a win win situation for the network, so long as they are not gone too long off the air (not more than a week or two).

This might make a better separate thread. But what if, the ala carte' idea where to be implemented. Could the networks that had more viewers demand more money for ads? After all it would be very easy to tell without a sample but the actual numbers who is being watched. I know I watch less than 10 channels out of about 300 I receive.

To me FoodNet would be on my ala carte' list but not HGTV. Many channels I already watch would have to be in any package, like C-SPAN, NASA for example. I would buy the Orlando locals but only those in English. Would that hurt minority networks? Probably.

I bet we see more and more of this network vs carrier fight. This is a reason why I see the NBC and Comcast merger (or which ever cable company) as a horizontal merger, not vertical.
 

Yes616

The Mod Squad
#7
Cablevision, Scripps still at odds; official wants rebates

Kudos to the Town of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence who wants rebates to those who lost the channels. It's a nice jesture but I am not sure it will work.

I work for a public transportation company and it is required that if we change things like change or reduce service or change pricing (fares) we must give the public 30 days notice and a chance to voice their opinions or we legally cannot do it.

On the other hand, long time Dish Network HD customers know what this is like. 19 months ago we lost 15 HD channels known as the VoomHD Networks. A couple of those channels especially but not limited to MonstersHD and RaveHD were my favorites. We lost them all with no advance warning at whatsoever. Also, there was no change in the price of the HD package Voom was a part of at the time.

After that Voom lasted another 7 months with only one provider. Cablevision. At least at that time, Cablevision customers were told over a month in advance that Voom was going away. Voom was taken down completely exactly one year ago next week.

Cablevision should have at least warned customers of the possibility that the channels may go away and an opportunity to comment ahead of time. At the very least, it's the right thing to do.

Cablevision, Scripps still at odds; official wants rebates

By Christian Livermore
Times Herald-Record
Posted: January 12, 2010 - 2:00 AM

There's been no progress on getting the Food Network and HGTV back on the air for Cablevision subscribers, and one area official is asking the cable provider to reimburse viewers for their loss.

Scripps Networks, which owns the channels, reached an agreement with WPIX to air two programs over the weekend as a sort of feeding tube option for viewers missing their TV — an encore episode of "HGTV Dream Home" and a two-hour special presentation of "Iron Chef America: Super Chef Battle." Other than that, representatives have had a couple of meetings without result.

About 3 million Cablevision customers, including tens of thousands in the mid-Hudson, lost the two channels Jan. 1 after Scripps' contract with Cablevision expired. Scripps is seeking about a 200 percent increase in the fees it receives for Food Network, and a smaller increase for HGTV.

"While 200 percent sounds like a big number, when you're only being paid pennies and you multiply that by 200, it's still only pennies," said Scripps spokeswoman Cindy McConkey, "and the viewer is the one that's losing out right now."

Cablevision pays about 25 cents per subscriber per month for the channels. Scripps maintains the increases would bring rates in line with what other carriers are paying. But Cablevision is refusing to pay.

Town of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence has filed a complaint with the state Public Service Commission alleging Cablevision did not provide written notice the channels were going off the air and asking for rebates for each day viewers go without.

"I don't like to see two corporations fighting for an increase in their bottom line at the expense of my residents," said St. Lawrence, who is running for lieutenant governor.

Cablevision representatives declined to answer specific questions about the situation, but issued a statement regarding the Ramapo complaint saying that as soon as Scripps pulled the channels, Cablevision began running video messages and launched a Web site about the situation.

"We have repeatedly called upon Scripps to put its channels back on Cablevision while we negotiate a new agreement," the statement reads in part, "but they have refused."

clivermore@th-record.com
 

Orrymain

, Blogger: Orry's Orations
#8
That reminds me of our local utility company that never does rebates; that is, until last year when the garbage guys when on strikes for several weeks and people were getting rid of their own trash. There was a huge outcry -- and we all got a free month.

I wish we could really do some kind of ala carte thing that was financially feasible, but we had a local try that once, and it didn't go over. I'd miss the Food Channel a little if I were there, but it wouldn't do me in.
 
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