Fox v. Cablevision: Should Washington Be Television’s Umpire?

James Gattuso /

Last Sunday, countless Philadelphia Phillies fans settled down in front of their TV sets to watch their team take on the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series. They were disappointed. Not because their team lost—they won—but because they couldn’t watch it.

The reason is a contractual spat between Fox Broadcasting and Cablevision over how much Cablevision must pay to put Fox’s programming on its cable TV system. With negotiations at an impasse, Fox stations in Philadelphia and New York (as well as some Fox cable channels) were dropped from Cablevision’s system, leaving some 3 million households Phillie-less.

It’s not the first time that such blackouts have occurred. In fact, disputes between content providers and distributors have led to more blackouts this year than any in a decade. In March, for instance, Cablevision subscribers nearly missed the Oscars broadcast due to a dispute with ABC. (more…)