television network has escalated into a nationwide dispute that has left 11 Disney-owned stations off local cable systems.

The time of the dispute couldn't it is in worse for Disney and also ABC. The might "sweeps" -- the ratings period during which heralding rates because that the following television season are set -- began last week, and also ABC, prefer its competitors, has actually scheduled plenty of TV specials to strengthen ratings. As a result of the disagreement with Time Warner, alphabet programming will certainly not be transfer via cable in much of new York and Los Angeles, the two biggest TV markets in the country.

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In total, the fight has actually left 3.5 million residences without cable accessibility to abc programming. In enhancement to brand-new York and also Los Angeles, alphabet stations in Houston, Texas; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Toledo, Ohio; and little parts the Time Warner systems in Fresno, Calif. And Philadelphia have been influenced by the dispute.

The quarrel centers about negotiations in between Time Warner Cable and also Disney-ABC for a brand-new agreement come transmit ABC with time Warner's cable systems. The main allude of disagreement has actually been Disney-ABC's desire to move the

Disney Channel

from premium to straightforward service and to include two new cable networks,



Toon Disney

. Time Warner agreed to make few of the changes, but balked at the compensation Disney-ABC is seeking. "Disney is trying to inappropriately usage its property of alphabet to extract excessive and also unreasonable terms for its cable channels--terms the would hundreds of millions of dollars in expenses for Time Warner Cable and also its customers," Time Warner Cable said in a statement.

The original national transmission deal expired Dec. 31, 1999, and also Disney-ABC available five meeting extensions because then. The most recent deadline, readily available in March, offered Disney-ABC the government to withhold its programming from Time Warner cable equipment if no transaction was reached by 12:01 a.m. EDT Monday. Recommends


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Disney-ABC stated Monday that it offered Time Warner that consent to bring its programming until might 24, when the sweeps period will end, but that Time Warner "unilaterally pulled

alphabet off its systems." Disney-ABC referred to as the move illegal and also blamed Time Warner's pending merger with

America Online


because that the escalation the the dispute.

"This blackout is a dreadful foreshadowing of the effects of the time Warner/AOL merger," stated Arnold J. Kleiner, president and also general manager of ABC's Los Angeles affiliate, KABC-TV, in a statement.


Time Warner desires to duck the issues of syndicate control and also consumer accessibility while their merger is pending," the said.

Time Warner, not surprisingly, blamed Disney because that the dispute. "In the past week, Time Warner has actually made two reasonable proposals come Disney that would have actually kept abc on Time Warner cable solution through the end of the year," Time Warner said.

Disney reportedly appealed to the

Federal interactions Commission

~ above Monday to intervene on that behalf. An FCC representative did not immediately return our call for comment.

The fight will most likely prove much more costly come Disney-ABC 보다 Time Warner, claimed Michael Goodman, analyst with the

Yankee Group

, a study firm in Boston.

"It's in their ideal interests to acquire it worked out as conveniently as lock can," he stated of Disney-ABC. The network has actually several high-profile sweeps reflects scheduled for May, consisting of celebrity appearances top top its runaway game show hit "Who desires To it is in a Millionaire" and Michael J. Fox's last appearance top top "Spin City."

"This is loaded through A-list programming," Goodman said. "Who's got an ext to lose? Disney-ABC."

While viewers deserve to still get ABC programming via antennas or satellite transmissions, Goodman said he doubts enough would perform so prior to the key ratings period ends may 24 to lull a ratings erosion on ABC.

The extremely public nature the the dispute is nettlesome for Disney, i beg your pardon historically has actually tried to maintain a great deal of control over the family-friendly image.

Disney shares declined 11/16 come 42 7/8 in midday Monday. Time Warner dropped 13/16, or 1%, to 89 1/8. (Disney closed under 1 5/8, or 4%, in ~ 42 while Time Warner closed down 1 1/16, or 1%, at 88 7/8.)

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