Fox Sports, AT&T in Rights Battle


AT&T Broadband's Atlanta-area system, already preparing for a modest
price hike in January, is refusing to pay Fox Sports Net South a surcharge for
additional local college-basketball games.

At issue are about 32 games the regional sports network acquired as part of
FSN's national Atlantic Coast Conference television deal. Also included in the
package are 11 games featuring local college Georgia Tech and the University of

FSN offered the games to AT&T Broadband for an undisclosed surcharge, but
the system rebuked the offer.

AT&T Broadband spokesman Reg Griffin said the operator will still carry
23 Southeastern Conference and ACC college-basketball games from Fox Sports
South, including several Georgia Tech and Georgia games.

'The additional games carried a significant programming fee, and we didn't
feel that it was appropriate,' he added.

Further fueling AT&T Broadband's decision not to absorb the charges is a
scheduled 5.5 percent price increase to its 580,000 subscribers beginning in

Griffin said rising programming costs -- especially a 20 percent-per-year
increase in sports programming -- contributed to the price boost.

But FSN South director of public relations Jamie Kimbrough said other MSOs in
the area agreed to carry the games without increasing their product cost to the
consumer. He added that negotiations have broken off between the two

'We feel that the additional fee is commensurate with the package,' Kimbrough

FSN has ratcheted up pressure on AT&T Broadband by running an ad
featuring its college-basketball schedule with asterisks next to the games
AT&T Broadband is not carrying in the Atlanta

The text of the ad encourages subscribers to call an 800 number that
eventually connects to AT&T Broadband customer-service representatives.

Griffin admitted that the system has received calls from subscribers
inquiring about the games, but he said AT&T Broadband has no plans to change
its position on the matter.