In the latest salvo in their retransmission-consent battle, Cablevision said it's up to Walt Disney Co. president and CEO Bob Iger whether the cable operator's customers get to see the Oscars telecast on Sunday night.
WABC-TV, in turn, responded by saying it was an insult to Cablevision customers that MSO officials were attacking Disney executives with the retransmission-consent deadline looming, before taking a few swipes at the cable company's leadership.
The New York area's predominant cable operator said Friday afternoon that it continues to urge Disney to listen to government officials and consumers and not pull the signal on WABC-TV on March 7 at midnight. The 82nd annual Academy Awards ceremony will air at 8 p.m. that day.
On Friday afternoon, Cablevision said it will leave the WABC-TV channel position open and available and that the switch is in Iger's hands.
"There is one man who is going to decide whether New York gets to see the Oscars, and that's Disney President and CEO Bob Iger," said Cablevision executive vice president of communications Charles Schueler in a statement. "Cablevision already pays Disney more than $200 million a year and now they are demanding $40 million more. We call on Bob Iger to stop holding his own viewers hostage, end his threats to pull the plug on ABC at midnight and instead work with us to reach a fair agreement. The switch is in Bob Iger's hands."
Rebecca Campbell, president and general manager, WABC-TV, returned fire with a statement of her own.
"It's an insult to Cablevision customers that, with literally hours to go before losing access to ABC7, Cablevision is personally attacking Disney executives," Campbell said in a statement. "Does Cablevision have such little regard for its subscribers' intelligence to think that they don't know a negotiation takes two parties? The inconvenient truth is that ABC7 has been prepared to reach a fair agreement for two years and Cablevision has refused to do its part. If Cablevision CEO James Dolan and the Dolan Family Dynasty have any regard at all for the millions of customers who pay hard earned dollars for their service, they will order their troops to stop slinging mud and start cutting a deal."