Lawsuit Tries to Force Fox to Stay With Bright House

Sugar Bowl
The Sugar Bowl has become a pawn in the high-stakes negotiations between Bright House and Fox.
TAMPA (2009-12-30) -

If Fox pulls its stations off Bright House, something unthinkable could happen to about one million Florida subscribers: they could miss the Gators take on Cincinnati in Friday's Sugar Bowl.

That's where Tampa lawyer John Morgan comes in. He filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Orange County to force Fox to stay on Bright House as negotiations continue.

“What we’re asking the court to do is say, listen, this is a breach of the public trust.”

Fox is owned by Rupert Murdock’s News Corporation, and is negotiating with Bright House's owner, Time Warner.

News Corp. wants Time Warner to fork over $1 per customer. If not, it's threatening to pull several channels: Fox, FX, Speed and Fox Sports Network. Fox News is covered by a separate agreement.

Eric Deggans
is Media Critic for the St. Petersburg Times. He says broadcasters are facing falling ad revenues and want cable providers to make up the difference.

“The consumer is stuck on the sidelines as a third party, watching all this play out,” Deggans said.

“But I can’t imagine a court decision that could force a business to do business with another one.”

Deggans says he expects Bright House to blink and cut a deal with Murdock. He says consumers tend to blame the cable provider when their favorite shows go off the air.

On Wednesday, Time Warner said it's willing to submit to binding arbitration before the Federal Communications Commission -- if News Corp. will do the same.

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