A group of New Yorkers up in arms over their inability to watch, among other things, the 2010 World Series has taken their grievances to the courts, arguing in a class action lawsuit that they deserve compensation for Cablevision's failure to provide Fox content over the past two weeks.
The suit, filed in federal court in New York, is the result of an ongoing impasse in negotiations over a renewal in Fox's contract with the cable provider.
Although both sides are pointing fingers at one another, the lawsuit cites News Corp., Fox's parent company, as saying that "Cablevision has rejected numerous proposals from News Corp. to enter into a new agreement, including proposals on the same terms and conditions of other cable providers in the New York metropolitan market."
'An important time'
As a result of the dispute, Cablevision subscribers have been unable to access several Fox-owned channels -- including Fox News, Fox Business, National Geographic Wild, and three local affiliates -- since October 16. Instead, the suit says, consumers have been treated to "Cablevision's annoying and self-serving loop, which whines about News Corp.'s supposed failure to negotiate in good faith."
The suit notes that, "in terms of political, sports and entertainment programming, the service interruption comes at an important time."
In addition to the World Series, which started on Wednesday, the complaint points out that "customers who are Philadelphia Phillies baseball fans were unable to watch their team compete in the National League Championship Series," and that Giants fans, many of whom are "unable to afford to attend ... games" in person, will miss the many Giants games that are aired on Fox. (Giants fans caught a break on Sunday, when their team defeated the Dallas Cowboys and clinched first place in the NFC East. That game was aired on ESPN.)
The suit also points out that "the Fox Channels ... provide a distinctive viewpoint in the political speech arena, which Cablevision's customers are being deprived of just days before a critical mid-term election."
The suit is brought on behalf of three "subclasses:" Cablevision customers who live in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
The plaintiffs are demanding $450 million or potentially more, should the dispute continue for longer than four weeks. According to the suit, Cablevision's three million customers -- who pay an average of $150 per month for cable service -- were promised in their service agreements that they would receive "a credit for each 'known program or service interruption in excess of 24 consecutive hours.'"
They also want "a permanent injunction that enjoins Cablevision in the future from ignoring its contractual deadlines with content providers, and compels it to enter into a dispute resolution mechanism that insures resolution of any such disputes ... so that its customers not be deprived of programming content."
The suit alleges breach of contract, unjust enrichment and consumer fraud.