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Amid sinking World Series ratings, Dish Network and Fox settle feud

By Tim Conneally, Betanews

Every year, cable companies have to re-negotiate their carriage fees with broadcasters. These negotiations are essentially an evaluation of how much certain channels are worth to the cable company, and then the cable company agreeing to pay a certain amount of money to the broadcasters in exchange for the right to feature those channels in their subscription packages.

In a power play to show the value of its stations, Fox blocked Dish Network from broadcasting 19 Fox Regional Sports Channels for the entire month of October while the two companies negotiated their contracts.

In a statement in early October, Dish Network’s senior vice president of Programming, Dave Shull called the move a “shakedown,” saying that Dish subscribers were being “held hostage in order to finance FOX’s irresponsible acquisition of sports rights.”

Today, however, the two companies have reached a deal which covers FX, The National Geographic Channel, and the 19 regional sports networks that Fox had blocked. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Shull said it’s both fair and long-term.

“I am pleased that Fox and DISH have kept in mind their responsibility to protect consumers from blackouts when they negotiate carriage terms,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said today. “I urge Fox and Cablevision to complete their negotiations and end the impasse that has disrupted service to viewers.” As of Wednesday, Cablevision and Fox hadn’t reached a settlement.

In the middle of this feud is the 2010 World Series, which is down 26% in ratings against last year’s World Series. For many customers in areas that Fox has blacked out, this the World Series on their home TV. Cablevision this week offered subscribers a rebate on subscriptions to MLB.com, which shows the event.

Copyright Betanews, Inc. 2010

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