Rainbow, Cablevision Illegally Refuse Access to Sports Programming, Says Bell Atlantic
Bell Atlantic Seeks Damages, Files Complaint Against Rainbow with Federal Communications Commission
March 27, 1997
WASHINGTON, DC -- Bell Atlantic tomorrow [March 28] will file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) against Cablevision Systems Corp. and its affiliate, Rainbow Programming Holdings, Inc., both based in Woodbury, N.Y., seeking access to Optimum Online sports programming, as well as damages to compensate Bell Atlantic for its losses and to deter Rainbow and Cablevision from violating the law.
Specifically, Bell Atlantic Video Services Company (BVS) alleges that Cablevision and Rainbow have refused to provide BVS with program rights to SportsChannel New York, SportsChannel Philadelphia and the PRISM sports programming service in Philadelphia. As a result, Bell Atlantic has been unable to distribute this regional sports programming in the Dover Township, N.J., market over Bell Atlantic's open video system.
Bell Atlantic Video Services has been seeking these program rights since it became the programmer of record for that market last November. BVS also notes that its predecessor, FutureVision, was unable to secure these rights from Rainbow despite repeated attempts to do so dating back to January 1996. FutureVision first began providing video service in Dover Township at that time.
"Consumers in local cable markets will have a real choice only if competitors can offer local sports programming," said William Morton, vice president and general manager-BVS, for the Dover Township operation.
"The laws and regulations couldn't be more clear; vertically integrated cable programmers like Cablevision and Rainbow must make their programming services available to their competitors on non-discriminatory terms," said Ed Young, vice president-external affairs and associate general counsel for Bell Atlantic. "Rainbow is deliberately and flagrantly flouting the law, and Bell Atlantic is now calling them to account."
Bell Atlantic Video Services became the programmer of record for Bell Atlantic's open video system in Dover Township, N.J., on Nov. 1, 1996, when it purchased certain FutureVision assets there. BVS now has about 3,000 subscribers on a system that passes more than 14,000 homes.
BVS now offers Dover Township more than 80 channels of programming comprised of local and distant broadcast signals, satellite programming and pay-per-view movies. Notably absent from the channel line-up is the Philadelphia and New York sports programming that is of keen interest to viewers in this community. The township sits on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, 90 miles south of New York City and 100 miles east of Philadelphia.
Bell Atlantic Video Services (BVS), incorporated in 1992, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bell Atlantic Corporation.
Bell Atlantic Corp. (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new communications, entertainment and information industry. In the mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication marketplace. Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in Telecom Corporation of New Zealand and is actively developing high-growth national and international business opportunities in all phases of the industry.