Tennis-Cablevision Carriage Of U.S. Open Still Stuck In Net
Parties Reaffirm Positions In Distribution Stalemate
Mike Reynolds 9/1/2009 3:01:16 PM EDT

It's day two of the U.S. Open tennis championships and the distribution volleys continued between Tennis Channel and Cablevision, as the parties remain stuck looking at each other over the carriage net.
The programmer, which is serving up 240 hours of coverage from Flushing Meadows, including 72 for live matches, is seeking penetration reaching about 50% of the operator's 3.1 million video customers in the New York DMA.
For its part, Cablevision, which recently became a member of the National Cable Television Cooperative, wants Tennis to authorize its signal, so the distributor can launch standard and high-definition versions of the network on its sports tier.
It appears as if that is not going to happen during the course of the Grand Slam fortnight, as Tennis issued the following statement this morning: "Cablevision has taken a step that raises serious problems for all cable programmers. We are sorting out these issues and will decide what steps to take when we are ready to do so. They are too important to the future of cable programming to be governed by the immediacy of the U.S. Open, as much as we would like to help people see it. Cablevision's decision to wait until just before the US Open began to demand carriage under the NCTC agreement makes it responsible for this situation; it could have given us notice of its intention to do so well before now, so that the questions could have been addressed and resolved in advance."
Cablevision announced its intention to invoke the NCTC contract for sports tier positioning on Aug. 26 and had hoped to launch Tennis by Aug. 28, three days before the Open began at Flushing Meadows. Tennis has said it has legal issues with Cablevision's unilaterally putting out a press release about its wont to launch the service and that it wasn't given a 30-day notification period to do. For its part, NCTC said it was "unaware of any previous launch request where Tennis Channel delayed authorization for 30 days."
This afternoon, Cablevision reiterated its position that it wants to make the service accessible to its customers on its iO Sports Pak, which houses 15 other sports nwetwork and retails for $5.95 monthly. The operator said it would make the sports tier available for free over the next month.
"We have a valid agreement that will immediately make the Tennis Channel available to any Cablevision customer who wants it. The Tennis Channel is continuing to claim a technicality allows it to delay the launch by a few weeks, and is refusing to do the right thing by authorizing Cablevision to receive its signal. Any further delay by the Tennis Channel is at the expense of New York-area tennis fans. Fortunately, Cablevision customers can already view more than 130 hours of the best live U.S. Open coverage on CBS and ESPN."