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Avella Renews Push for Bill to Force Arbitration in Cable Service Disputes

State senator cites recent dispute between Cablevision and Tribune Broadcasting as incentive to get legislation passed.

State Sen. Tony Avella is renewing his push for a bill he proposed that would require all cable providers to negotiate fairly and, if necessary, submit to binding arbitration through the state's Public Service Commission to determine terms and conditions under which independent cable channels would be carried by providers.

Avella, D-Bayside, said he was focusing on the legislation once more in the wake of Cablevision's decision to pull all Tribune Broadcasting owned channels from its lineup, which deprived Queens residents of local news coverage and Mets game, on Aug. 17.

"Unfortunately, these battles between cable channels and their service providers that often result in a disruption of service are almost a monthly occurrence these days," the senator said. "The real losers in these battles are the customers, who are not receiving the services they pay for and expect."

The senator had previously introduced the bill earlier this year after Time Warner Cable and Cablevision were involved in a dispute over the MSG and MSG+ channels, which play Knicks and Rangers games.

"These negotiations often carry on to the point that the subscribers are faced with a loss of service and either have to deal with the burden of switching providers or move on without the service they originally signed on for," Avella said.

He said his bill would force the companies to submit to arbitration and prevent such instances from occurring.

"Similar cable channel versus provider battles will continue to occur in the future unless action is taken," he said.

Bayside's Michael Feiner, who is the president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association, said he is among the many northeast Queens residents who have had problems with their cable provider.

"It always angers me when companies make the consumer suffer when they are having difficulty negotiating prices for their products," said Feiner, whose cable provider, Time Warner, took the MSG Network off the air amid a labor dispute earlier this year. "After all, where would these cable companies be without consumer support?"

Patch would love to hear from its readers. Have you had issues with your cable provider and have you lost channels that you frequently watched due to labor disputes between providers and channels? Post your comment in the section provided below.

Harriet Brown August 24, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Time Warner no longer has Universal Sports Channel which carries all the figure skating tournaments.

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