ABC Threatens 3.1 Million New Yorkers with Oscar Blackout

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While we're facing a dreadfully slow news day ahead, don't worry: We've got comedy! Thank ABC for the laffs this morning, with the network threatening to pull the network's plug on more than 3 million Cablevision subscribers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Which isn't so funny in itself, except that after two years of haggling over carriage fees and extending its Cablevision deal on month-by-month terms, ABC has set its new contract deadline for March 7 -- you know, Oscar night?

According to Cablevision representatives, the network seeks an additional $40 million per year from the cable provider, which amounts to a 20-percent hike in its annual $200 million payments to ABC's parent company Disney. The network responded by saying it hasn't been paid at all for its programming, despite Cablevision's $18-per-customer charge for "basic broadcast signals." Yes, Cablevisioners -- you've been enjoying your Lost, your Bachelor, your Dancing With the Stars this entire time for nothing (allegedly), and the time to stop it is now. Or at least March 7, which would grinchily scuttle Oscar night for so many. Unless they had an antenna and signal adapter. Or a neighbor with Time Warner/DirecTV.

Of course, the only odds longer than The Blind Side winning Best Picture are probably those of ABC yanking the Oscars from one of the biggest viewing blocs in the United States. Either a deal or another extension should be struck among the saber-rattling in time for Sunday's show. But who knows? Movieline will naturally keep you updated on developments as events warrant, and anyway, viewers in the New York-area danger zone should be adequately insured by now with tickets to our own NYC Viewing Party at 92YTribeca. Get yours today if you haven't done so yet, and we'll see you there, with a real live broadcast and everything.

· Disney: ABC may go dark on Cablevision in New York [AP]



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