Washington -- The Federal Communications Commission found
in a recent ruling that Cablevision Systems Corp. did not violate its rules by denying
certain sports programming to RCN Corp. in New York.
RCN -- a cable overbuilder partly owned by billionaire
investor Paul Allen -- filed a complaint with the FCC after Cablevision refused to sell
local cable networks to RCN and a second competitor, Microwave Satellite Technologies Inc.
RCN and MST wanted access to Cablevision's
"MetroChannels" after a few New York-area professional-sports games began
appearing on the local cable networks. The games appeared as "overflow"
programming after being bumped from their traditional network homes because of scheduling
The FCC found that Cablevision was legally entitled to
withhold the MetroChannels because the law mandating the sale of programming is limited to
satellite-delivered networks, while MetroChannels are delivered terrestrially.
The FCC rejected RCN's and MST's argument that
Cablevision tried to evade the program-access rules by migrating the games from
satellite-delivered Madison Square Garden Network and Fox Sports New York to the
The FCC said in an Oct. 8 decision that Cablevision
"provided convincing evidence" that airing the games on the MetroChannels and
distributing the networks terrestrially "were based upon legitimate business and
Christine Levesque, a spokeswoman for Rainbow Media
Holdings Inc., Cablevision's programming arm, praised the FCC ruling as consistent
with past efforts by Congress and the FCC to encourage "investment in and creation of
new local programming services like the MetroChannels."