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Jeremy Lin Mania Prompts Christine Quinn to Step Into MSG-Time Warner Brawl

By Jill Colvin | February 17, 2012 12:07pm
Christine Quinn is trying to pressure Time Warner and MSG to reach a deal so that all New Yorkers can watch the Knicks.
Christine Quinn is trying to pressure Time Warner and MSG to reach a deal so that all New Yorkers can watch the Knicks.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

MANHATTAN — Stop the Linsanity!

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other pols are applying a full court press on Madison Square Garden and Time Warner Cable, urging the warring sides to strike a deal so Knicks fans can watch phenom Jeremy Lin.

“Unfortunately, as you know, more than 2 million New Yorkers have been shut out of watching this magical Cinderella story unfold because of the ongoing contractual dispute,” she wrote in a letter Thursday to two of the companies' top execs.

She gave the sides an ultimatum: If they don’t reach a resolution within two weeks, the Council will hold hearings, requesting both sides face the public to explain why they have blacked out the games.

“If the impasse continues, please consider this letter a notice to prepare for a joint hearing,” she said.

Like millions of others Quinn has “followed with great interest and excitement the recent phenomenal play by Jeremy Lin and the resurgence of the New York Knicks," she wrote.

"At a time when all New Yorkers are getting together behind Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks, now is the time for you to resolve this dispute once and for all," she added.

City Councilwoman Maragaret Chin also stepped into the dispute, sending her own letter Thursday expressing "extreme disappointment" that about the stalemate, the impact of which she said "has been felt most painfully in Chinatown, where Knicks rising-star Jeremy Lin has galvanized Asian Americans of all ages."

"Basketball is incredibly popular with Asian American youth in our city. Mr. Lin is the first Asian American player in the NBA to make headlines, and he is quickly becoming a role-model for many young people in our city," she wrote.

"It is heartbreaking that thousands of Asian American families in New York are unable to watch him play," she said, noting that traveling to a bar or restaurant is not an option for many, including the elderly and young kids.

MSG and Time Warner have been locked in a bitter dispute for nearly six weeks over rights and cash. While Time Warner claims MSG is asking for unreasonable payments for it to carry the network, MSG says the cable provider is refusing to pay the price it’s worth.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, meanwhile, refused to get in the mix Thursday, dismissing the battle as just another spat between companies that produce content and distribute it.

"You are seeing the media world changing. That's what's happening here," he told reporters at an unrelated press conference.

"I do not think that government should get involved,” he added. "Government is not suited to go and decide which media you should have and what they should carry. That's up to the marketplace."

A Time Warner spokesman said there has been "no marked progress" in resolving the dispute, but noted that two of the next three games will be available to subscribers, including Sunday's game against the Dallas Mavericks, which will be aired on ABC, and Monday's game against the New Jersey nets, being aired on YES.

MSG did not immediately return requests for comment on the status of negotiations or Quinn’s threat.