News Corp. used Hulu and Fox.com access to hurt Cablevision customers in its continuing fight over retransmission fees this weekend. Proving how important online video has become to even the biggest companies.
News Corp. Vs. Cablevision
News Corp. and Cablevision are currently locked in a battle over retransmission fees in the New York area.
Cablevision currently carries local stations owned by Fox and its owner News Corp. Proprietor one Rupert Murdoch Esq. But News Corp. is trying to up the retransmission fees paid by Cablevision, and that contract dispute has seeped over into the online video sector.
Caught in the middle is Hulu, which is co-owned by News Corp. as well as by ABC and NBC Universal.
Online Video Used As Weapon
As first noted by All Things D on Saturday evening, News Corp. had taken the unprecedented step of trying to prevent Cablevision customers from accessing its programming via either Fox.com or Hulu. Cablevision customers were instead faced with the following message:
Hulu’s PR rep stated:
Unfortunately, we were put in a position of needing to block Fox content on Hulu in order to remain neutral during contract negotiations between Fox and Cablevision. This only includes Fox content. All other Hulu content is accessible to Cablevision Internet subscribers. We regret the impact on Cablevision customers and look forward to returning Fox content to those users as soon as possible.
In other words, Hulu didn’t want to do this but was put in a difficult position by News Corp. bosses as they tried any means they could to disrupt Cablevision’s operations, thereby forcing the latter’s hand into agreeing to new terms.
Thankfully, News Corp. came to its senses after a few hours and lifted the ban on Cablevision customers wanting to watch shows via the company’s own website or Hulu. Mainly because customers were apoplectic with rage and expressed these views on the Web.
This shows how important online video has now become, because this is the first time access to online content has been denied due to one of these frequent contract renegotiations.
News Corp. acted out of line, obviously, but the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is likely to pull the company up on this. Meanwhile, New York’s Cablevision customers should once again be looking forward to catching the next episode of Glee on Tuesday.
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