Last-minute dramatics this afternoon as the next “deadline” approaches for Disney (NYSE: DIS) and Cablevision: tonight’s Academy Awards. Disney says it’s sent a new proposal and the ball is in the cable operator’s court. But Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) is playing a different game: calling on “CEO Bob Iger to immediately return ABC to New York area viewers, and join us in binding arbitration to resolve this matter fairly.” And, in a move that it’s hard to imagine happening during the Kevin Martin FCC, the cable operator is urging federal agency “to appropriately involve itself in this process.” Disney pulled the signal as promised at 12:01 a.m. when the two could not reach an agreement.
Meanwhile, the FCC wants everyone to know it’s watching out for consumers (LAT has the full statement) — and those consumers are starting to show their frustration with both companies.
5:15 p.m. update: ABC’s response to queries about arbitration: “Instead of issuing statements about arbitration, it would be more constructive for Cablevision to deal with the offer that we have on the table.”
5:40 p.m.: Cablevision is trying to appease subs by making all its VOD movies free today — including three best picture nominees. In the “so much for corporate synergy” department, instead of focusing on Newsday‘s Oscar coverage which should be available to its ISP subs, Cablevision has hired New York Post vet Paula Froelich to live blog the Oscars.
More as warranted.