AT&T Takes MSG HD Gripe to FCC


Washington -- AT&T will officially ask the Federal
Communications Commission to require Madison Square Garden Networks to
negotiate for U-Verse carriage of the HD feeds of MSG and MSG Plus in Connecticut.

AT&T sent a letter to Cablevision Systems and Madison
Square Garden last week (June 24) requesting that the channels be made
available within 10 days. That request came after the FCC process for requiring
access to terrestrial nets became official last week.

But an AT&T source says the company already knows the
answer, which is "no," and that it will be filing the amended complaint
to the FCC.

Verizon Communications amended its complaint Monday against
Cablevision, making the same request for HD channels on its FiOS TV service.
Both AT&T and Verizon complaints involved carriage of HD signals in
Connecticut. Both carry the SD feeds of MSG and MSG Plus, which between them hold
local TV rights to the National Basketball Association's New York Knicks, and the
National Hockey League's New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.

The FCC's access rule change included clarifying that an HD
feed is considered a separate channel from an SD feed. AT&T and Verizon
certainly agree, arguing that for sports fans who increasingly have HD sets,
delivering that crystal-clear action is crucial to attracting customers.

Cablevision has been referring questions about the complaint
to MSG, which was spun off from the Bethpage, N.Y.-based MSO earlier this year
into a separate public company. An MSG spokesperson was not immediately
available for comment.

But in a statement last week, MSG indicated that making the
SD feed available was sufficient, and AT&T's letter points to Cablevision's
argument that it had granted Cablevision an HD exclusive in areas served by

The AT&T source said that Cablevision's
lawyers had told the company that they did not read the FCC's new terrestrial
exemption order as requiring Cablevision to make the HD feed available.