Verizon Urges FCC to Stop Cablevision's Illegal Withholding of Regional Sports Programming

With the NBA and NHL pre-season games only three months away, Verizon is taking further action to end Cablevision's illegally denying Verizon and its FiOS Television subscribers access to high-definition feeds of MSG and MSG+ regional sports programming.

Under new FCC rules, Verizon on Monday (June 28) filed a supplement to its previous Program Access Complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.  The new filing asks the commission to require Cablevision and Madison Square Garden, L.P. to sell Verizon access to the high-definition sports feeds of the MSG and MSG+ networks.

Program distributors like Cablevision are presumed to be in violation of the new FCC rules if they do not make terrestrially delivered regional sports programming that they own or control available to other video providers on nondiscriminatory terms.

While Cablevision supplies the high-definition sports programming to itself and certain other providers - including the other cable incumbents - it refuses to provide access to Verizon and its subscribers on any terms. 

"Cablevision's anticompetitive withholding of programming is harming not only Verizon, but also consumers by denying them competitive choice," Verizon said in its FCC filing.  "Consumers who would otherwise have FiOS as an alternative to Cablevision do not view FiOS as a competitive option due to the lack of MSG and MSG+ in HD."

Verizon's original Program Access Complaint against Cablevision was filed on July 7, 2009.  The FCC updated and strengthened its rules in the 2010 Program Access Order in January.  The new order enabled Verizon to supplement its original complaint.

"Consumers continue to be denied the full benefits of meaningful competitive choice because Verizon still cannot offer its customers access to the high-definition feeds of the must-have regional sports programming that defendants own and control," Verizon said in its filing.  "Verizon requests that the commission act promptly to grant our complaint." 

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