Well, friends, it's Friday, nearly 5:00 and we have no movement - or any that I'm aware of - at this moment.

  Calls have been made to the appropriate people. The silence remains deafening.

  So, we all want to know: What's going to happen? Will we see the Oscars? if not, will this drag on into the next week? How much worse can this get?

  First, a small caveat. I am a Newsday employee and Newsday is owned by Cablevision.  Other than that, I am absolutely a disinterested party in this dispute, and you'll simply have to take my word for it. I'm not taking sides, nor do I have any intention of doing so, and certainly no one has asked me too.

  But this is a major issue - impacting our lives directly, and I think it's important to attempt to parse this out a little further as the deadline approaches.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

  To my question: Who will blink first?

Foremost, there is a possibility that neither side will blink and that both have dug themselves so deeply into their positions that they are immovable at this point. I don't believe that.  Business is business; it's not personal, even if this seems like it's personal.

  But in this dispute, I think you have to examine the quesion - who’s most vulnerable.

I believe it's Ch. 7.

 Here's why. Yes, there could be commercial makegoods for the national broadcast of the Oscars Sunday night and those could be considerable, or not, depending on how deals were cut with advertisers. The bigger issue is local inventory - local ads - or what are called "local adjacencies" in the parlance of the trade. In addition, ABC of course sells local ads to hundreds of advertisers in the tri-state area. What happens to that revenue if Cablevision disappears, particularly in the midst of an absolutely brutal ad market right now?

  Some facts:  Some facts: WABC had revenues of $278.5 million in 2008, compared to $294 millionfor Ch. 4 in 2008, according to Chantilly, Va.-based BIA/Kelsey, financial services and consulting firm. But BIA also reports that overall local TV revenues dropped a further 22.4 percent in 2009 - part of that drop-off was of course due to the fact that the political season had passed, and part of it to the fact that the tri-state area entered a major recession.  2010 will improve (per BIA), though later in the year, when local and statewide election spending kicks in. Figures for WABC last year were not available, but it's believed Ch. 7 easily surpassed faltering Ch. 4 as the market's most profitable station.

  Translation: the local TV advertising market is under great pressure right now. Losing 3.1 million Cablevision customers Sunday night, or in later days, losing "Oprah," or "Wheel," "Jeopardy" or name-a-show, will damage the revenue picture for Ch. 7 even more sharply. Plus this, Ch. 7 seems to think LI viewers will lose access to "Oprah" starting Monday, but they made one little miscalculation: LI viewers can already see "O" on Ch. 55. So...

  Of course, WABC isn't the only party exposed here.

  Here's what the Wall Street Journal reported this morning:

advertisement | advertise on newsday


"These fights come down to a very simple calculus: Who can cause whom the most
pain?" said Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett. "Cablevision is uniquely exposed to ABC —their entire business operates in one media market," he said...For Cablevision, any subscribers who cancel their service over the Disney dispute could cost between $1,500 and $2,000 apiece in lost profit over the four years an average customer stays with Cablevision, according to Mr. Moffett.


  My point here is simple: There is impetus for both sides to resolve this as soon as possible. I have my fingers crossed for the Oscars. And of course, for "Oprah" - though I'll just tune to Ch. 55 for the dear girl.