Time Warner Appeals FCC's MASN Ruling


Washington—Time Warner Cable is asking the five members of the Federal Communications Commission to nullify a staff order that required the cable company to widely distribute a Washington-Baltimore regional sports network to hundreds of thousands of North Carolina cable subscribers.

The cable company filed its appeal on Nov. 26, attempting to nullify a staff ruling that mandated carriage of Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), the pay-TV home of the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals baseball clubs.

MASN also airs 200 NCAA basketball games, including 30 contests that include North Carolina schools, MASN spokesman Todd Webster said.

Time Warner's appeal was filed under seal. A public version is expected to be available with a few days, a source familiar with the case said Monday.

FCC Media Bureau chief Monica Desai ruled in late October that Time Warner Cable discriminated against MASN by refusing to provide carriage on an analog tier that most subscribers receive.

She ordered Time Warner to provide MASN with an analog channel within 30 days, a deadline that expired last week. Time Warner immediately announced that it would appeal to the full commission. At some point, it could take the FCC to court.

As of late Monday, MASN is still not being carried by Time Warner Cable, Webster said.

Time Warner Cable has 1.5 million subscribers in North Carolina, the home state of FCC chairman Kevin Martin, who has been putting pressure on cable operators to initiate or expand carriage of independent programmers.