Cablevision Might Be Seeking Intel Before a Retrans Storm

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The Wire was reminded of the Grateful
Dead song Casey Jones on hearing of the survey Cablevision
did with one of its subscribers the other day: “Trouble
ahead, trouble behind... .”

The trouble behind Cablevision was the loss of Scripps
Networks’ Food
Network and
HGTV for 20 days
in January, before
and programmer
agreed on
fee terms, and
the channels
were restored to
Cablevision’s 3
million customers
in the New York City area.

The trouble ahead could be retransmission disputes
with Walt Disney Co.- and News Corp.-owned stations
in New York: WABC-TV (the ABC O&O on channel 7) and
WNYW (the Fox station on channel 5), respectively. That’s
The Wire inferring from the survey.

The subscriber, who asked not to be quoted by name (for
good reasons), said the survey questions were along the
lines of: Do you watch broadcast channels? Do you watch
more TV on broadcast or cable channels? Do you watch
Fox 5? What do you watch on it? How upset would you be
if weren’t available? Would you drop Cablevision in a day,
a week, a month? How much would you pay for Fox 5 —
nothing, 50 cents, a dollar?

A similar set of questions followed regarding WABC,
Channel 7.

Cablevision and News Corp. are said to have extended
their Fox deal by a year this past fall to ensure the World
Series (with the New York Yankees) would be on. Disney’s
cable deals are believed to be coming up later this year, at
least with Time Warner Cable.

Gathering intel before the storm?

A Cablevision spokesman said: “As a matter of course,
we survey our customers all the time to get their thoughts
and feedback on our cable television and other products.
We ask about cable channels and broadcast networks,
VOD, HDTV and other areas of interest that help us succeed
in our highly competitive market.”