Cable operator's deal to carry N.Y., Philly stations expires Sat.

Fox and Cablevision ramped up the war of words behind their retransmission battle Tuesday.

Both sides dug their heels in, as it began to look less likely that a deal could be hammered out by midnight Saturday morning — when the cable operator’s deal to carry WNYW and WWOR in New York and WTXF in Philadelphia (as well as select News Corp.-owned cable networks) is set to expire.

In a letter to the FCC, Fox confirmed that it had met with Cablevision on Tuesday, Oct. 5 and presented a proposal that “was consistent with deals Fox has entered into with major operators within the last year.”

Fox said that it made its first proposal to Cablevision on May 7 and heard back from the operator on July 7; it then sent a revised proposal on Aug. 24 and heard back on Sept. 21.

“Since Wednesday, Oct. 6, Fox has not received a telephone call, email or any other contact from Cablevision regarding either of those two proposals,” the company said.

In a letter back to Fox Networks affiliate sales and marketing prexy Michael Hopkins, Cablevision said its proposal to News Corp. for restransmission consent was “equal to or better than the rate paid to the other major New York broadcasters — including stations with higher ratings and similar sports rights.”

The letter, written by Cablevision programming exec VP Mac Budill, said Fox’s proposal would force Cablevision to pay more than the other New York area broadcasters combined.

“You made clear to me that this was a non-negotiable offer — that ‘this is it,'” Budill wrote.

In response, Fox noted that it had sent Cablevision two proposals in the last week.

“Cablevision is being hypocritical if it believes Fox’s proposal is not fair,” Fox said in a statement. “According to SNL Kagan, in 2009 Cablevision paid itself and charged other pay-TV companies considerably more for just two of its sister company channels (MSG and MSG Plus) than all 12 of the Fox Channels they carry, even though the Fox channels enjoy significantly higher ratings.”

Both sides are calling on each other to return to the table and negotiate (although Fox adds the caveat, “seriously”).

At risk for New York- and Philadelphia-area Cablevision subscribers is Fox’s baseball playoffs coverage, specifically with the Phillies and Yankees both in league championship series.

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