If a deal is not reached between Fox and cable distributor Cablevision, local channels like WNYW 5 and WWOR 9 will go off the air for subscribers starting at midnight tonight. In an effort to stave off that eventuality, the FCC made the rare move today of stepping in and offering to help arbitrate, urging both sides to push the deadline into next week. Cablevision, which has been pushing for binding arbitration and has lined up more than two dozen local politicians behind the effort, accepted the FCC offer. Fox declined. "Cablevision needs to stop hiding behind a call for binding arbitration and negotiate in good faith," a spokesman told the Times. "Direct business-to-business negotiation is the only way to resolve this issue, while also preserving the long-term stability of the broadcast system." Meanwhile, Cablevision supporter Representative Steve Israel said today on WCBS radio: "I hope when people wake up on Saturday morning and if Fox is off their screens they'll remember that Cablevision agreed to binding arbitration and Fox did not. We need them to stop the brinksmanship."
F.C.C. Offers to Mediate In Cablevision-Fox Dispute; Fox Declines [Media Decoder/NYT]