CBS-Cablevision Deal Might Impact Tribune Standoff

Martin-D.-Franks-AIn a move that could ratchet up pressure on the Tribune station group to cut a carriage deal with Cablevision, the Long Island, N.Y.-based cable operator has inked a new arrangement with CBS. The deal covers CBS stations in three markets where Tribune stations are currently blacked out in Cablevision homes: New York, Philadelphia and Denver.

In addition to carrying CBS-owned stations, Cablevision will also continue to offer Showtime, the Smithsonian Channel and CBS Sports Network.

The deal could set a financial framework for a deal with Tribune, where WPIX in New York has been off homes in a huge portion of the country’s largest market for weeks. CBS will be affected by the standoff, since it is a part owner in the CW network, which is unavailable in many New York homes now.

"Cablevision is a cornerstone partner in our flagship market,” stated CBS Executive Vice President Martin Franks.

There have been questions in Washington, D.C. about whether the current retransmission consent framework works, since disputes lead to blackouts. But in a recent Congressional hearing, Franks suggested the system is not perfect but is effective.

“I guess we prefer the devil we know,” he said then.

He said CBS has made loads of carriage deals while avoiding blackouts, and retransmission consent dollars help CBS recoup the $5.5 billion a year it invests in content.

CBS last week also announced a deal covering similar properties to the Cablevision arrangement with AT&T U-verse.

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