ABC pulls WABC off of Cablevision

Cablevision subscribers scrambled Sundayto hook up antennas or find live TV on the Internet in order towatch the Academy Awards after ABC's parent company Walt Disney Co.switched off its signal in a dispute over fees.

The standoff affected 3.1 million subscribers to CablevisionSystems Corp. in parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

In dueling statements, the companies traded blame for thestalemate. Itwas the first time in a decade that a major broadcast station wentdark in a dispute with a cable company.

"Cablevision has once again betrayed its subscribers," saidDisney spokeswoman Charissa Gilmore. "Cablevision pocketed almost$8 billion last year, and now customers aren't getting what theypay for ... again."

Cablevision said the stall in negotiations should be blamed onDisney CEO Bob Iger. "It is now painfully clear to millions of NewYork area households that Disney CEO Bob Iger will hold his own ABCviewers hostage in order to extract $40 million in new fees fromCablevision," said Charles Schueler, a Cablevision executive vicepresident.

ABC said Sunday afternoon that it had sent Cablevision a newproposal and was awaiting a response. "The ball is in theircourt," said WABC-TV general manager Rebecca Campbell. No detailson the new proposal were provided.

ABC's signal can still be pulled from the air for free with anantenna and a new TV or digital converter box. But Cablevisioncustomers fumed over being the losers in a fight between twocorporations.

Cablevision has argued that Disney is seeking an additional $40million a year in new fees, even though the company pays more than$200 million a year to Disney.

Disney counters that Cablevision charges customers $18 per monthfor basic broadcast signals but does not pass on any payment forABC to Disney.

Cablevision customers who would like to watch the Oscars can find free online coverage at Livestream, E! Online, L.A. Times: The Envelope or Watch Oscars Online. Cablevision is the parent company of News 12.

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