Cable Operators

Reprieve for New York Sports Channels

11/28/2004 7:00 PM Eastern

Madison Square Garden Network and FSN New York will stay on Time Warner Cable at least until Jan. 20, as an interim deal pushed back a Nov. 23 deadline.

Time Warner and MSG Networks parent Cablevision Systems Corp. late Monday reached their second interim carriage agreement in three months. This one — which also includes carriage of Cablevision's MetroChannels — came as Cablevision threatened to remove MSGN and FSNY from Time Warner's 2.3 million subscribers by Nov. 23.

The deal means Time Warner subscribers will get at least another 30 New York Knicks National Basketball Association games.

New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer again helped broker the truce, as he did in August, after Cablevision pulled MSGN and FSNY from Time Warner systems for about 10 days.

Representatives from Spitzer's office could not be reached at press time.

The companies “hope to reach a long-term agreement during this extended negotiating timeframe,” during which they would have no further comment.

Time Warner is balking at a proposed $4 for the two sports channels, up from the $2.90 Cablevision was paid in a deal that expired last December, sources say.

Over the last two years, MSGN and FSN New York have lost the Yankees and the National Basketball Association's New Jersey Nets, both to YES, and could lose Mets after the 2005 season.

Cablevision insists the proposed increase would keep both networks under the $1.91 to $2.11 rate that competitor YES charges locally.

Along with MSGN, FSNY and the MetroChannels, sources said the agreement would also include services such as SportsDesk On Demand video on demand service, a MSGN/FSNY HD channel and an MSGN interactive feature that allows viewers to choose different camera angles while watching local teams' home games.

Representatives from Time Warner Cable and MSGN would not comment on deal terms.

September