A high profile retransmission dispute pitting Cablevision against Fox Broadcasting spilled over to the Internet this weekend as subscribers to Cablevision’s broadband service found themselves without access to online Fox programming, triggering protest from lawmakers and from net neutrality advocates. Last Saturday at midnight, News Corp., the parent of Fox Broadcasting, pulled its signals for television broadcast stations WNWY, WWOR, and WTXF, and for the Fox Deportes, NatGeo Wild and Fox Business cable networks from Cablevision systems in the New York City and Philadelphia markets after the parties failed to agree on renewed carriage terms by last Friday’s deadline. The days preceding last Saturday’s signal cut-off were punctuated by a media blitz involving both sides, in which Cablevision called for binding arbitration to address Fox’s demand for rates that were “more than for CBS, NBC, ABC and Univision combined.” Fox, in turn, accused Cablevision of failing to negotiate in good faith and of offering less than thirty-cents per subscriber for the channels in question, as Fox maintained that “direct business-to-business negotiation is the only way to resolve this issue.” As the stations at the heart of the dispute went dark on Cablevision systems, reports surfaced over the weekend that Fox had blocked access by Cablevision broadband subscribers to Fox web sites as well as to Fox-owned content on Hulu.com. Urging the FCC to intervene, former House Communications, Technology & Internet subcommittee chairman Ed Markey (D-MA) told FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a letter last Saturday that “the tying of cable TV subscription to access to Internet fare freely available to other consumers is a very serious concern,” as he charged that Fox’s actions contradict the FCC’s 2005 net neutrality policy statement which holds that “consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.” Advocates of net neutrality such as Public Knowledge and Free Press took a similar view. As Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn declared that the Fox-Cablevision dispute “shows the dangers of unchecked media consolidation and of a retransmission consent regime badly in need of reform,” Free Press Director-Research S. Derek Turner proclaimed that “consumers should have the right to watch online content, and this access should not be tied to a dispute over cable television carriage arrangements.” In a statement issued Tuesday in the midst of the ongoing debacle, Genachowski promised to scrutinize the actions of both companies “very closely,” as he reminded officials of both firms that they “share responsibility for consumer disruption, and that they shouldn’t punish consumers because of their unwillingness to reach a deal.”