Court Dismisses Sky Angel Suit Against C-SPAN

Says it did not adequately establish public affairs net's withdrawl of channels was antitrust violation; but Sky Angel can refile complaint

A District Court Monday dismissed over-the-top video provider Sky Angel's antitrust suit against C-SPAN, the cable industry funded public affairs network, but it did so without prejudice and signaled that Sky Angel could refile its complaint.

"We are delighted with the District Court’s dismissal of Sky Angel’s antitrust lawsuit against C-SPAN," said Bruce Collins, C-SPAN VP and General Counsel. "As we said from the beginning, and the judge has obviously agreed, Sky Angel did not have any facts to back up its fanciful claims.  C-SPAN now looks forward to continuing its public service mission without this distraction."

Sky Angel filed an antitrust suit against C-SPAN in November 2012, saying the public affairs net improperly withdrew its programming from the program distributor in 2009 at the direction of a board made up of cable operators who dominated the video distribution market and colluded to competitively disadvantage competitor Sky Angell.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed that charge, saying Sky Angel had provided no factual context for the alleged board member agreement.

C-SPAN had said that it had taken its programming off the service because Sky Angel's switch to Internet-delivery of the channels violated its contract. The court said it would not undertake a breach of contract analysis in the pleading stage.

The court said it did have jurisdiction over Sky Angel's antitrust claims, but that it had not made its case for violations of the Sherman antitrust. The court said that from the facts as pleaded, it could not conclude that a single entity wielded or threatened monopoly power over the relevant market.

The court said that had Sky Angel been able to make that case, it had shown real and antitrust injury. It also suggested that if Sky Angel refiles its complaint, it will need to provide more details about the geographic scale of national competition.