Cablevision Systems Corp. on Monday told the government that Fox has acted in "bad faith" in blacking out its programming to some 3 million subscribers.
The cable operator said it is facing an ultimatum to pay more than double its previous tab for Fox programming or miss out on carrying baseball's World Series, between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants, starting on Wednesday.
Fox responded quickly, saying that it has negotiated in good faith, and called Cablevision's claims a "ploy" to get the government to step in.
Fox signals from three of its TV stations have been blocked to Cablevision Systems Corp. customers since Oct. 16 in a fee dispute. Cablevision says Fox, a division of News Corp., is asking for more than $150 million a year for those channels and others, up from $70 million a year it paid until their deal expired recently.
Cablevision said Fox had made only a "take it or leave it" proposal, timing the blackout to coincide with major sporting events.
Fox denied the charge.
"We have never made any 'take it or leave it' demands, nor are we asking for $150 million in fees," Fox said in a statement.
On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission asked both companies to describe how they are meeting a government mandate to negotiate in "good faith." Such good faith negotiations are a requirement in a law that allows broadcasters to bargain with cable and satellite companies for fees to carry TV signals that are otherwise sent freely to anyone with a proper antenna.
Cablevision shares closed down 6 cents at $26.43 on Monday, while News Corp.'s widely trade Class A shares fell 15 cents, or 1 percent, to close at $14.25.