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Leo Hindery, Chairman of the YES Network

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, April 3, 2002. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews. 

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: The most successful team in team sports is being blocked from almost 3 million of its fans.

The battle between the New York Yankees' YES network and Cablevision (CVC) is getting ugly and even uglier, could other professional teams be watching and waiting in the wings to pounce on their own?

Cablevision declined to talk to us today, but Leo Hindery, the chairman of the YES Network, is here to tell us what he's fighting for. Leo, very good to have you. Thanks for coming.

LEO HINDERY, CHAIRMAN, YES NETWORK: Thanks for letting me come by, Neil. I appreciate it.

CAVUTO: OK. Now, Cablevision says that it is all because you want to charge this ungodly premium, $1.82 a subscriber, whatever it is. They say a dollar is about the best you can do, and that this is you doing it, not them.

HINDERY: You know, I think that is just so disingenuous as to be unfair to everybody, Neil. Twenty-nine cable operators in the region, from southern New Jersey to Buffalo, New York, are actually carrying the Yankee Network, YES Network in basic. They are very comfortable with its rate structure. They are very comfortable with our request that it be in basic. The only company of the 30 in the region, the only company that is not carrying it is Cablevision. And what didn't come across well in the lead to the story is they had the Yankees and lost them to YES Network.

CAVUTO: So, you think they are spiting you?

HINDERY: I think there is three things going on here. I think there is a lot of bad history here. And while the fans are the victim of that, it is still a part of the fight. They are also a competitor. The other 29 operators in the are do not own a competing service. And Cablevision has had a decade-long history of treating its own services differently than it treats competitors. We are simply a competitor.

And the other people look at the network. They believe in it. They believe in its quality, its pricing, where it belongs, which is in basic. And again, the one guy who is taking exception has a competing service, had the Yankees, and if they would simply give back to the fans of Cablevision, the viewers of Cablevision, what they lost, there would be no fight.

CAVUTO: But it is not as if they do not want to offer it. They would just offer it as a premium service. You're saying it should be a basic service, even though they are paying premium prices for it, right?

HINDERY: Well, the reason it needs to be base is the same reason Fox News is basic. The whole premise of multi-channel television, Neil, is what we call big basic. This is actually the one service that should or could actually go into premium. It is so appealing. It is so propriety. It is so unique. But there would be no C-SPAN in a premium world. There would be no History Channel. There would be no Fox News Channel. There would be no A&E. There would be no Discovery.

The one service that, curiously enough, could make it would be a service like this.

CAVUTO: But, Leo, you are a brilliant marketer. And something tells me as well that you saw that if you could have a commanding price, which you do, the P.R. could be really bad for Cablevision, not for you, in the New York area.

HINDERY: But I think that the P.R. has been bad for Cablevision, Neil. You cannot contrast an environment where 29 organizations have looked at the service, have grown comfortable with it and are carrying it and one guy...

CAVUTO: But is everyone, Leo, paying the same price?

HINDERY: Everybody is paying roughly the same price. The big guys pay less, as they do with Fox News and other services. There is a premium advantage, so to speak, to size, Neil. But all 29 are putting it in basic and are comfortable with it.

CAVUTO: Yes, but how does it affect you personally? I know you were, I guess, hope are still friendly with the Dolan family. You went to his James Dolan's wedding, right?

HINDERY: I did. Jim Dolan is a friend.

CAVUTO: And you gave him a gift.

HINDERY: I gave him a great toaster.

CAVUTO: So, you are not asking for that back?

HINDERY: I think he's probably used it. Williams-Sonoma does not take back used toasters.

This is a very pivotal debate. And again, it is not about premium versus basic. The Cablevision folks would like you to think it is. And yet, their own service, Neil, MSG, which is the competing service, they require be carried in basic. Cablevision requires all of its own services to be in basic. The only exceptional service that they're trying to put into premium is ours.

CAVUTO: All right. Now their stock is tanking before any of this stuff, but are you -- hold out hope for New Yorkers who are hoping to see the Yankees on it, how likely is it or not likely at all, unless they get DirecTV?

HINDERY: To be honest with you, I think it's not looking good tonight.

CAVUTO: Tonight, but for how long?

HINDERY: I am a cable programmer, Neil. I knock on the door and hope somebody answers. The Cablevision guys to date have opted not to answer. I can't force myself on. That is the tragedy of the position they are in. They are the monopolist on Long Island as the wire line provider. The only alternative people have in the market is DirecTV. But DirecTV is not a total alternative to people who live in apartments or multi-family units.

So the unfairness of it is their own service is carried in basic, their own competing service. They want us to be treated differently.

CAVUTO: All right. Leo Hindery, the YES Network chairman, thank you very much.

HINDERY: It's a pleasure, Neil. Thanks.

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