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Cablevision reaches deal with Disney; ABC service restored to 3.1m subscribers

Cablevision cited Disney’s Robert Iger. Cablevision cited Disney’s Robert Iger.
Associated Press / March 8, 2010

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NEW YORK - Cablevision’s 3.1 million subscribers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut had their access to the Academy Awards telecast restored last night after the cable operator reached a deal with ABC’s parent company in a dispute over fees.

“It is a deal that is fair to our customers and in line with our other programming agreements,’’ Cablevision Systems Corp. spokesman Charles Schueler said in a phone interview with The Associated Press after the signal had been restored. He declined to disclose details of the deal.

“We are very grateful to our customers for their support and pleased to welcome ABC back,’’ he added in an e-mailed statement.

A stalemate in the dispute had led ABC’s parent company, the Walt Disney Co., to pull its programming from the cable operator’s subscribers at midnight Saturday.

The move, which imperiled viewers’ access to the highly rated Oscar show broadcast, marked the first time in a decade that a major broadcast station went dark in a dispute with a cable company.

The signal was switched on at 8:43 p.m., Cablevision said. The awards show began at 8:30 p.m.

Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger was seen in the Oscar audience, about a minute after Cablevision announced it had reached a deal to get the telecast on the air.

A spokeswoman for ABC did not immediately respond to phone or e-mail messages.

The companies traded blame for the stalemate ahead of one of the most-watched nights of television.