Cablevision, OLN Reach Accord

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New York-area hockey fans in Cablevision Systems Corp. systems will have access to OLN’s package of regular-season National Hockey League games beginning Oct. 31 as part of a deal reached between the MSO and the network.

Cablevision will move OLN from its low-penetrated sports tier to its 1.5 million-subscriber digital-basic tier in time for OLN’s Halloween night Montreal Canadiens-New York Rangers telecast, executives from both sides said.

OLN refused to distribute its Monday- and Wednesday-night games to Cablevision while the network resided on the MSOs digital-sports-tier service, which reached fewer than 40% of all Cablevision subscribers

The deal -- which also includes unidentified Cablevision agreements with OLN parent Comcast Corp. “in a number of areas,” according to a statement from Cablevision senior vice president of programming Mac Budill -- ends a two-week blackout of OLN NHL telecasts on Cablevision.

The agreement comes on the skates of EchoStar Communications Corp.’s decision earlier this month to remove OLN from Dish Network’s lineup over the distribution demands. Dish had been making OLN available to some 3 million of its 11.4 million subscribers.

Just prior to OLN’s NHL coverage Oct. 10, Adelphia Communications Corp. agreed to make the service more widely available to its subscriber base.

OLN signed a two-year, $135 million deal with the NHL this summer, following the cancellation of the pro puck league’s 2004-05 season in the wake of a labor dispute.

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