Verizon Files with FCC vs. Cablevision

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Verizon Communications Inc. is tired of blocked shots at basketball and other sports programming by Cablevision Systems Corp., so the regional Bell operating company filed a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.

The telco alleged that it first approached the cable operator and its wholly owned programming subsidiary, Rainbow Media Holdings LLC, more than one year ago.

Verizon wants FSN New York, FSN New England and Madison Square Garden Network for sports programming on its competitive Verizon FiOS TV platform. Those licenses would give the telco access to New York Knicks and Boston Celtics National Basketball Association games; New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils National Hockey League games; and other programming.

"We are in discussions with Verizon, and their own spokesperson recently acknowledged that these negotiations 'can take a while.' It would be more productive for Verizon to negotiate with us than to file complaints and issue press releases,” Rainbow spokesman Whit Clay said.

Terry Denson, Verizon’s vice president of FiOS TV content strategy and acquisition, said in a prepared statement that Cablevision responded to Verizon’s requests for negotiations by demanding deployment plans -- information that was only valuable to Cablevision as a direct competitor, not as an element to evaluate any license bid.

"Cablevision's consistent refusal to negotiate carriage terms clearly is an attempt to block competition and preserve its market position, and the 1992 Cable Act specifically prohibits this type of refusal to deal," Denson added.

Verizon has been unable as of yet to negotiate carriage deals with non-Cablevision sports networks, including Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network, which carries New York Yankees Major League Baseball cablecasts and New Jersey Nets NBA games; and SportsNet New York, the cable home of MLB’s New York Mets.

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