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"LOST" in New York


ABC's signal was pulled off of Cablevision during a repeat of "Lost" Saturday night, escalating a standoff that could impact viewership of the Oscars in the tri-state area.

Some 3.3 million viewers in the New York area lost their ABC signal at midnight Saturday night.

After Cablevision and WABC-TV, ABC's owned and operated station in the nation's top TV market didn't make any progress in the their tense negotiations over retransmission consent on Saturday, ABC followed through on its threat to take the station off Cablevision's systems at 12:01 a.m. ET on March 7, the day of ABC's broadcast of the Academy Awards.

ABC's blackout came in the middle of "Lost." WABC carries "Lost" reruns from 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Saturday night, and some viewers took to Twitter when their show went dark in the middle of an episode.

Twitter was also abuzz about a major snafu on Cablevision's part. Instead of pulling only ABC, the cable operator accidentally took down all broadcast networks on its systems.

Moments after midnight, WABC and Cablevision issued another set of dueling statements pointing fingers at each other for the shutdown.

"Cablevision has once again betrayed its subscribers by losing ABC7, the most popular station in the tri-state area. This follows two years of negotiations, during which we worked diligently, up to the final moments, to reach an agreement," said WABC’s general manager Rebecca Campbell. "Cablevision pocketed almost $8 billion last year, and now customers aren't getting what they pay for ... again. It's time for Jim Dolan and the Dolan Family Dynasty to finally step up, be fair, and do what's right for our viewers."

In his statement, Charles Schueler, Cablevision's executive vp communications, said: "It is now painfully clear to millions of New York area households that Disney CEO Bob Iger will hold his own ABC viewers hostage in order to extract $40 million in new fees from Cablevision. We call on Bob Iger to immediately return ABC to Cablevision customers while we continue to work to reach a fair agreement."

At the heart of the standoff is the retransmission consent fees ABC is seeking from Cablevision for the right to carry its flagship New York station. By using the $40 million figure, Cablevision implies that ABC is looking for a fee of $1 dollar per month per subscriber, the same target that Fox had in its retransmission fight with Time Warner Cable in December.

Cablevision's counteroffer is said to be around 25 cents.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

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