Viewers Launch New Offensive In Cablevision-Fox War

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Viewers seek refunds for the loss of Fox programming since October 16th. (Published Friday, Oct 29, 2010)

    Salvatore Gandolfo just wanted to watch the World Series with his nine year old; but, as it was for three million Cablevision customers, the game on Fox was blacked out in Gandolfo's Massapequa home Wednesday night.

    "It's got to stop," said the 45-year-old accountant.  "It's the third strike for them when I can't watch the game with my son."

    Gandolfo is one of at least two Long Islanders now suing Cablevision, seeking refunds for the loss of Fox programming since October 16th.

    The suit was filed in New York Supreme court in Nassau county and Gandolfo's lawyer hopes a judge will expand it to a class action on behalf of all Cablevision customers.

    "They have a contract with viewers they haven't fulfilled," said attorney Michael Rakower.  "They haven't held up their end of the bargain."

    Other Cablevision subscribers have filed a similar suit in Westchester, according to Rakower

    Cablevision reacted by pointing the finger of blame at News Corp., Fox's parent company.

    "News Corp. is the company that deserves a lawsuit for blacking out the World Series," read a Cablevision statement.

    Fox pulled its programming from Cablevision in a dispute over programming fees. 

    No talks were held Thursday, according to a Fox spokesman. 

    Fox rejected Cablevision's latest offer Wednesday, calling it "incomplete."  The offer was extended  just prior to game one of the World Series.

    "I can't imagine two companies, with bigger egos, who could just stand up and yell at each other that they're not going to cave in," said Hofstra University's Media Studies chairman, Bob Papper.

    This dispute between media giants could drag on indefinitely, Papper said, unless a third party like the Federal Communications Commission intervenes to broker a deal.

    "I hope it keeps going for as long as possible," said Michelle Baldi, manager of Rookies Sports bar in Huntington.

    The bar has satellite TV and, according to Baldi,  business has boomed since the Fox-Cablevision fight began, especially on football Sundays when the NY Giants are blacked out.

    "There was a two and a half hour wait for tables, the Sunday before last," Baldi explained.  "People were outside the bar, looking through the windows, just to see the screens."

    Cablevision is now offering its subscribers a ten dollar rebate to customers who subscribe to MLB.com to watch the Texas-San Francisco fall classic.

    But with the Jets game scheduled to air on Fox this Sunday, it could be another busy day at area sports bars and another disappointing one for Cablevision customers who prefer to watch at home.