Sen. Lautenberg implores Cablevision, Disney to work out differences

New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) is imploring Disney and Cablevision to stop using consumers as "pawns" and resolve their longstanding differences immediately.

In a letter to both companies on Sunday, Lautenberg said he was "exceedingly disappointed and troubled" that Cablevision subscribers are without ABC channels, following the prior company's refusal to pay Disney another $40 million in annual fees.

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That standoff meant ABC channels went dark for millions in the greater New York area early Sunday morning, and the feed is unlikely to be restored in time for the Oscars.

Lautenberg, however, implored both companies to work together to remedy that situation in the coming days -- not just so that viewers can watch the award show, but so that families can tune into "programming they have come to rely on for news, education, and entertainment."

“New Jersey families should not be used as pawns in this battle between two large corporations,” Lautenberg in a statement. “Disney should not cut off access to the Oscars and critical news programming for so many New Jersey families. Both sides need to get back to the negotiating table and work this out immediately.”   

The senator also promised "additional action from Congress," in the event both companies failed to resolve their differences, though he provided no details of what those consequences might include.

"Your businesses depend on these hard-working consumers, and they do not deserve to be held hostage in your contract dispute," Lautenberg said. "I urge both parties to get back to the negotiating table now and put the interests of New Jersey consumers at the forefront of your agenda."

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