Cablevision, Rejecting Verizon's Request, Refuses to Provide FiOS TV Subscribers - and Millions of Other Viewers - Access to New York Gubernatorial Debate

Verizon is reaching out to elected officials and others on Long Island and around the state to seek their support for the company's efforts to broadcast the first gubernatorial debate leading up to the 2010 election.

The debate will be held at Hofstra University on Monday (Oct. 18) and is sponsored by Cablevision.

"Verizon FiOS TV customers and millions of other viewers served by other providers across the state have essentially been blacked out of the debate, denying them their rights as citizens and voters, since Cablevision is the sole broadcaster of the event," said Michelle Webb, general manager and chief programming officer of FiOS1, Verizon's news channel for Long Island and northern New Jersey.  "And while the broadcast will be available on certain websites and some radio, those may not be practical solutions for many people."

Verizon is making the situation known to the candidates' staffs, elected officials, voter rights groups and community leaders.   

Verizon's efforts come after Cablevision refused repeated requests to share the broadcast of this only scheduled debate.  "We reached out to Cablevision directly, but our request was flatly denied," Webb said. 

She added: "Cablevision's refusal to make this historic debate available to residents and voters across New York is nothing short of outrageous.  We're not asking to play a formal role in the debate; we're only seeking the right to make it available - live on television - to consumers who may not be able to see the event otherwise.   In an election season, we should leave politics to the candidates.  An informed voter is something that every broadcaster should want.  The debate should be available to everyone."

Cablevision's refusal to share the broadcast of the debate is consistent with its other anti-competitive policy to deny its sports programming in high definition to other carriers.

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