The Game Show Network has filed a program carriage complaint against Cablevision, saying it had used its market power to favor its own affiliated network 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 conditions" and pay a fine. FCC rules prevent an MVPD from discriminating against unaffiliated nets in favor of ones in which it has a financial interest.
GSN says 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 its similarly situated affiliated networks, We TV and spin-off Wedding Central, which it did not also reposition. Wedding Channel, which launched in August 2009, was shut down on July 1 aspart of AMC Networks' spinoff from Cablevision, as part of the programming company's plan to better allocate its resources.
Moreover, GSN says the move caused its ratings to "crater" in the New York DMA, the largest TV market in the country.
The network also claims that when a member of its management committee, who is also a DirecTV executive, sought to help "undo" Cablevision's move of the channel. GSN claims that Cablevision suggested a resolution that would include DirecTV's distribution of Wedding Central, which that company had already decided not to carry and rejected. GSN says that 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.
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."
"Our filing speaks for itself," said GSN in a statement. "Our dealings with Cablevision have been utterly inconsistent with the way in which all of our other clients value and distribute GSN."