Cablevision won't bill Hurricane Sandy victims

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Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) said Friday that it will credit the bills of its Optimum subscribers who have lost cable TV, Internet and phone service as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

The MSO said that its subscribers will be able to receive full or partial-day credits during the periods that they have been unable to access its Optimum services as a result of power outages or damage to its network. With Cablevision announcing Thursday that about half of its subscribers have lost power since Sandy hit on Monday, the credits could be substantial, and impact the company's fourth-quarter earnings.

"Many of our customers have been severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and we want them to know that credits are available for the period of time that they have not had Optimum service, including when electrical power was not available," Cablevision senior EVP of product management and marketing Kristin Dolan said in a statement.

Dolan said that Cablevision subscribers will not be responsible for lost or damaged set-tops as a result of Sandy. "We will be able to exchange damaged equipment at no cost," she added.

Officials at Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) also said Friday that they will not charge subscribers fees for lost or damaged equipment.

 "Our hearts go out to our customers impacted by the storm, and we want to do everything we can to make things even a little easier as they go through this difficult time. We will handle each customer on an individual basis so we can be sensitive to their specific needs and circumstances," Comcast spokeswoman Jenni Moyer told FierceCable. Subscribers with lost or damaged equipment should call 1-800-COMCAST to report it, or can visit one of the MSO's local service centers, she added.

Time Warner Cable spokesman Alex Dudley said that the MSO also won't charge subscribers fees for lost or damaged equipment from Sandy. "But we do ask, if at all possible, that they return damaged equipment," he added.

Most homeowners and renters insurance policies cover cable and satellite TV equipment. Look for cable MSOs to file claims with insurance companies used by subscribers to recover some of its costs from damaged equipment.

For more:
- see the Cablevision release

Special Coverage: Hurricane Sandy's aftermath

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Eagan: Hurricane Sandy could cost Cablevision $25 to $40 million
Cablevision, Verizon suffer widespread outages sparked by Hurricane Sandy

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