SOURCE: Scripps Networks

Scripps Networks

January 01, 2010 00:16 ET

Food Network, HGTV Enlist Viewers' Help to Get Popular Lifestyle Networks Back on Cablevision

Cablevision Refuses to Recognize Value; Subscribers Will Miss New Year's Premieres

KNOXVILLE, TN--(Marketwire - January 1, 2010) - Two of the top-rated networks on television -- Food Network and HGTV -- went off the air on Cablevision in New York City, Long Island and the Tri-State Region at midnight New Year's Eve after the cable operator failed to negotiate acceptable rates for programming distribution rights.

Cablevision's contract allowing it to carry Food Network and HGTV expired at midnight, Dec. 31, 2009. As negotiations to renew the contract stalled, the networks were dropped from Cablevision's lineup and launched a consumer campaign. Subscribers are being encouraged to log on to and or call 866-695-BEST to demand that Cablevision put the two networks back on the air.

"Viewers love our talent and our shows, which is why Food Network and HGTV rank among the top networks in cable," said John Lansing, president of Scripps Networks, which owns and operates Food Network and HGTV. "But we simply are not being compensated like top 10 networks by Cablevision."

Cablevision, which serves 3 million subscribers in the New York City, Long Island and Tri-State Region, charges an average fee in excess of $83 per month for its TV programming. Of that, Food Network and HGTV combined receive less than 25 cents per subscriber. That's a sharp contrast to the value cable subscribers on the whole place on the two networks. The 2009 Beta Cable Subscriber Study found that the average Cable customer feels Food Network is worth $1.03 per month and HGTV is valued at 73 cents per month, which is considerably more than Cablevision has been paying for the networks' programming and more than Scripps is asking in the current negotiations. In fact, Cablevision pays itself more for smaller, lower-rated networks that it owns.

Brooke Johnson, president of Food Network, noted that the networks invest distribution fees they receive from Cablevision and other cable and satellite companies in developing on-air hosts and in creating the relevant and entertaining programs that keep viewers coming back to watch Food Network and HGTV.

Lansing stressed that Scripps (NYSE: SNI) is still willing to negotiate.