Policy

GSN Cries Foul Against Cablevision

10/17/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Washington-- GSN has filed a program-carriage
complaint against Cablevision Systems, saying the
cable provider used its market power to favor its own
affiliated networks at GSN’s expense in violation of
Federal Communications Commission rules.

It wants
the agency
to force Cablevision
to carry the
network on
what it says
are “nondiscriminatory
terms
and condit
ions” and
pay a fine.
FCC rules
prevent
multichannel
video providers from discriminating against unaffi
liated networks in favor of ones in which it has a
financial interest.

LOST FEMALE VIEWERS

GSN said Cablevision’s migration of the channel last
February from the basic tier to a male-targeted sports
tier estranged GSN from its primarily female audience.

GSN maintains that move was inconsistent with
other operators who carry the network on basic, rather
than specialty tiers, and that the move favored Cablevision’s
similarly situated affiliated networks, WE
tv and spinoff Wedding Central, which it did not reposition.
Wedding Central, which launched in August
2009, was shut down on July 1 as part of AMC Networks’
spinoff from Cablevision in a bid to better allocate
resources.

GSN says the move to a sports tier caused its ratings
to “crater” in the New York DMA, the largest TV market
in the country.

The network also said that when a member of its
management committee, who is also a DirecTV executive,
sought to help “undo” Cablevision’s move of
the channel, Cablevision suggested a resolution that
would have included DirecTV’s distribution of Wedding
Central, which DirecTV had already decided not
to carry. GSN said Cablevision’s tying of the “fair distribution”
of an unaffiliated network with the “unearned
benefits” of an affiliated network constituted
a second, separate, violation of FCC program-carriage
rules.

GSN is owned by DirecTV and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

‘SELF-SERVING PLOY’

Cablevision was dismissive of the complaint: “The
programming comparisons made by GSN — WE tv’s
programming for all women vs. old game shows —
make a mockery of the FCC’s program-carriage rules.
We believe the FCC will see through this self-serving
ploy and reject GSN’s claim.”

GSN said in a statement: “Our filing speaks for itself.
Our dealings with Cablevision have been utterly
inconsistent with the way in which all of our other
clients value and distribute GSN.”