Regional Nets Drawn Into Debate, Too

5/11/2003 8:00 PM Eastern

High-priced regional sports networks also remain within operators' crosshairs.

At the hearing last Tuesday, Cablevision Systems Corp. chairman Charles Dolan and Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network chairman and CEO Leo Hindery continued their debate over the MSO's carriage of the $2.20 per subscriber channel.

Dolan testified that less than 9% of the 1.9 million Cablevision subscribers who don't get YES through digital and premium packages have opted to buy it a la carte.

Hindery, who wants Cablevision to carry YES on basic, refuted those claims, adding that a YES analysis of Cablevision subscribers suggests more than half of all Cablevision subscribers get YES.

Either way, their one-year deal guarantees YES payment on 51% of all Cablevision subscribers.

Robbins also took some heat last week after testifying Cox carries its New Orleans-based regional sports network on an epanded basic tier. But sources say talks between Cox and Charter Communications Inc. to offer the service — which carries New Orleans Hornets National Basketball Association games — broke down in April after Cox insisted on basic carriage.

A Cox spokeswoman said the network recently added a tier option to affiliate deals, but said it was not a result of this week's hearings. The network has yet to reach a deal with Charter.

Charter representatives could not be reached for comment at press time.

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