Mar 29, 2004  •  Post A Comment

As ordered by a three-member arbitration panel, cable operator Cablevision Systems must carry the YES Network as part of its most popular pricing packages, a move that Cablevision said will hike the monthly price of its expanded basic cable service by 95 cents.
“This ruling is a significant step backward that ignores the consumer’s desire for fairness and choice, core principles that were the basis of Cablevision’s dispute with YES,” Cablevision President and CEO James Dolan said in a statement.
Cablevision last week lost its carriage battle with YES, a 24-hour sports channel that provides broadcasts of New York Yankees games and other events, after the arbitration panel unanimously ruled the cable operator had to carry the sports channel on its most popular pricing packages, killing Cablevision’s hope of carrying the network only on a pay sports tier.
YES said it was “grateful to the arbitration tribunal for its careful and timely award, which will greatly benefit the public and sports fans throughout the region.”
The ruling ends a years-long battle between YES and Cablevision over fees the cable operator was to pay to carry the channel on its systems, which are concentrated in the New York City metropolitan area. In 2002 Cablevision balked at the YES Network’s demand for a monthly $2-per-subscriber fee to carry the network to Cablevision’s 3 million subscribers and pulled the channel from its lineup. In protest, many subscribers fled to satellite services such as DirecTV.
In 2003 the two sides reached an agreement just before baseball’s opening day to carry YES for a year. As part of the deal, Cablevision agreed to pay YES a $1.95- per-subscriber monthly fee or $4.95 a month for a sports package that also included MSG Network and Fox Sports Net New York. YES and Cablevision also agreed to take the matter to an arbitration panel.
Despite losing the larger battle, Cablevision was able to point to one win. Sources said the six-year contract requires Cablevision to pay YES a monthly per-subscriber fee starting at $1.85, a bit less than the $2 fee YES was demanding and less than what Cablevision was paying under the temporary pact reached last year.