Saturday, October 16, 2010

FOX content on Hulu blocked as Cablevision dispute extends to the Internet

News Corp. and Cablevision are currently involved in a struggle over pricing for New Corp.'s FOX content. The two sides are currently in negotiation, but earlier, FOX content was blacked out on for Cablevision TV subscribers. So too, was Hulu, for anyone accessing it via Cablevision's Internet service.

After all, News Corp. has a stake in Hulu. Thus, the company has used that leverage to ban Cablevision Internet users from accessing FOX content on Hulu. Consider it an escalation in the ongoing fight. Hulu PR rep Elisa Schreiber said:
Unfortunately, we were put in a position of needing to block Fox content on Hulu in order to remain neutral during contract negotiations between Fox and Cablevision. This only includes Fox content. All other Hulu content is accessible to Cablevision internet subscribers. We regret the impact on Cablevision customers and look forward to returning Fox content to those users as soon as possible.
Fortunately, either someone blinked or during the negotiations, enough "good will" was achieved that the online content is going to be restore. The restoration take some time to roll out to all, however, it was noted.

Despite the restoration, this is an unnerving turn of events. Why drag Cablevision Internet into the dispute, some of whom don't even have Cablevision TV service? Here's what Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner said in an emailed statement:
"This is a very disturbing, anti-consumer move by Fox. Consumers should have the right to watch online content, and this access should not be tied to a dispute over cable television carriage arrangements. This discrimination against Cablevision high-speed Internet customers is particularly egregious because all other online viewers who do not purchase any cable television service currently have unfettered access to Hulu and Fox.com content.

"This move is also an example of a major user of public spectrum abusing the public interest. Fox's willingness to harm Internet users as a side effect of their dispute with Cablevision over broadcasting content is a disturbing escalation of the retransmission battles, one where consumers are caught in the middle.

"This highlights the rocky future ahead for so-called "cord-cutters" who use online video services as a way to break free from the expensive and restrictive cable distribution model. We call on policymakers to dig deep into this anti-consumer tying of content and act to ensure the online video market is not destroyed in its infancy."

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