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Customers Suffer as Cablevision and Scripps Clash

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Wow, I thought it was tough being a Time Warner Cable (s TWC) customer right now, but that was because I haven’t had the pleasure of forking over monthly payments to Cablevision, whose recent troubles with Scripps Networks make the Fox-TWC drama look like an episode of Sesame Street.

Scripps, which owns the Food Network and HGTV, has been unable to negotiate with the cable provider, according to The New York Times, and thus 3 million cable households in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have been affected by the argument over how much Cablevision subscribers should pay for the Food Network and HGTV.

However, Scripps is offering some of its programming locally, specifically Food Network shows like on WPIX in New York City and WTXX in Hartford, Conn, Multichannel News reports. Among the shows being rebroadcast is the Iron Chef America episode featuring First Lady Michelle Obama, which originally premiered Jan. 3 and has been mentioned frequently as one of the programs subscribers were most miffed about having to miss.

Meanwhile, Cablevision Systems CEO James Dolan compared cable channels to one of the tech community’s favorite punching bags, the music industry, saying that programmers that increasingly insist on huge affiliate fee increases risk pricing themselves out of business.

Negotiations between the two companies continue to go slowly, though some “progress” has been reported, and in the meantime, consumers are left without the content they’re ostensibly still paying for. As the NYT Media Decoder blog puts it: “The affected customers are left with few options; they can complain to Cablevision or the networks, or they can try to switch to another provider.” There’s no telling yet who’s going to win this one, with one exception — it probably won’t be the consumer.

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