The number of elected officials that have joined the chorus to prevent Fox Networks from pulling its signal from Cablevision Systems at midnight has ballooned to at least 26, with each one calling for the parties to submit to binding arbitration to settle their dispute.
Cablevision's carriage agreement for Fox television stations WNYW and WWOR in New York, WTXF in Philadelphia and cable networks Fox Deportes, NatGeo Wild and Fox Business Network is set to expire at midnight. Cablevision has called for Fox to submit to binding arbitration in the matter, which would also require that Fox not pull its signal during negotiations. Fox has declined that offer, adding that its needs would be better met through direct business to business negotiation.
The two sides have tossed barbs through dueling newspaper, TV and radio ads over the past several days as the deadline has approached. If an agreement is not reached, Cablevision customers risk losing access to National Football League programming - including the hometown New York Giants, Major League Baseball's National League Championship Series and on Oct. 27, the World Series.
In a press release Friday, Cablevision said the list of local legislators that have joined the call for independent binding arbitration has swelled to include seven members of Congress from New York and New Jersey, eight New York State Senators, three New Jersey state legislators, three Connecticut state representatives and six local New York area legislators including Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone (D-NY), Rockland County Legislator Ed Day (R-NY) and Westchester County Legislator Bill Ryan (D-NY).
"If we can't reach agreement, Cablevision will accept the bipartisan calls of 27 elected officials for binding arbitration to solve this matter without any interruption in programming," Cablevision executive vice president of communications Charles Schueler said in a statement. "We urge the leadership of News Corp. to put viewers first and join us in this fair and impartial process. Cablevision would never take these broadcast stations away from our customers, and we have urged News Corp. not to pull the plug on Fox 5 and My9."
In a statement, Fox said Cablevision should concentrate on negotiating a deal.
"Cablevision needs to stop hiding behind a call for binding arbitration and negotiate in good faith," Fox said in the statement. "We appreciate the requests for Cablevision and Fox to enter binding arbitration and we share the concern for protecting viewers' access to programming. As we previously stated, binding arbitration would, unfortunately, reward Cablevision for refusing to negotiate fairly and will only ensure that more unnecessary disputes arise in the future. Direct business-to-business negotiation is the only way to resolve this issue, while also preserving the long-term stability of the broadcast system. We will continue to negotiate and are committed to putting all our resourceas towards reaching a fair resolution."
For those keeping score, a list of the elected officials follows:
Congressman Peter King (R-NY)
Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY)
Congressman Tim Bishop (D-NY)
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
Congressman Steve Rothman (D-NJ)
Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ)
NY State Senator George Maziarz (R-NY)
NY State Senator Jose Peralta (D-NY)
NY State Senator Dean Skelos (R-NY)
NY State Assemblyman Karim Camara (D-NY)
NY State Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY)
NY State Assemblyman Denny Farrell (D-NY)
NY State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-NY)
NY State Assemblyman Mike Spano (D-NY)
NJ State Senator Paul Sarlo (D-NJ)
NJ State Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-NJ)
NJ Speaker of the Assembly Sheila Oliver (D-NJ)
CT State Senator Gayle Slossberg (D-CT)
CT State Rep. Chris Perone (D-CT)
CT State Rep. William Tong (D-CT)
Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone (D-NY)
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day (R-NY)
NYC Councilmember Erik Martin Dilan (D-NY)
NYC Councilmember Dan Garodnick (D-NY)
Westchester County Legislator Bill Ryan (D-NY)
Harrison Town Supervisor Joan Walsh (D-NY)