Washington -- Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) is taking a stronger interest in
cable-regulation issues largely as a result of Yankees Entertainment &
Sports Network's ongoing carriage dispute with Cablevision Systems Corp., an
aide to the lawmaker said Monday.
"There is the big business fight, but the consumer is getting hurt. He is
concerned about it," Lautenberg aide Tim Yehl said after addressing a National
Association of Broadcasters forum here.
Cablevision, with 2.9 million subscribers, is the dominant cable company in
the New York City market, which includes thousands of viewers and Lautenberg
constituents in northern New Jersey.
Cablevision has refused to carry YES' regular-season slate of New York
Yankees Major League Baseball games on the expanded-basic tier, claiming that
the monthly $2-per-subscriber license fee is excessive.
YES has refused Cablevision's offer to control its own a la carte channel and
keep all of the revenue.
Lautenberg, who retired from the Senate a few years ago, was elected last
November as a sudden replacement candidate for then-Sen. Robert Torricelli
(D-N.J.), who dropped out amid an ethics scandal.
He was named to the Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the cable
Although Lautenberg hasn't introduced any cable legislation, he has begun to
study cable-regulation issues and is watching to see if YES gains Cablevision
carriage in the weeks leading up to opening day.
"We haven't drafted anything, but it's a concern of his," Yehl
In related news, a proposed bill that would force Cablevision to carry YES in New Jersey is being delayed from its vote in the New Jersey State Assembly Monday as the bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Paul Sarlo, adds an amendment.
Sarlo is attempting to "clear up" some issues that were raised last week, said Chris Eilert, Sarlo's chief of staff.
The amendment, which is being presented Monday, will help to make the bill more viable, Eilert continued.
The vote is being pushed off until next week.