Verizon Seeks FCC Help In Fight for NY Sports Rights

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Verizon Communications is tired of having its attempts to gain basketball and other sports programming blocked by Cablevision Systems Corp., so the telephone company has filed a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.

The telephone company alleges it first approached the cable operator and its wholly-owned programming subsidiary, Rainbow Media Holdings LLC, more than a year ago. Verizon wants FSN New York, FSN New England and the Madison Square Garden Network for its FiOS TV platform. Those licenses would give the telco access to New York Knicks National Basketball games and New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils National Hockey League games, along with other programming.

Rainbow, through a partnership with Comcast Corp., also owns half of FSN New England, which carries home Boston Celtics contests in that market.

Verizon is competing head-to-head with Cablevision, the incumbent cable operator, in communities such as Nyack and Massapequa Park, N.Y.

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

Terry Denson, vice president of FiOS TV content strategy and acquisition, said in a statement that Cablevision responded to the telco'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.

Verizon also has been unable to negotiate carriage deals with the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network and SportsNet New York, the new cable home of the New York Mets.

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