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Time Warner Cable to Appeal Arbitrator's Decision on MASN

Cable Operator: ‘No Basis’ to Conclude that Baltimore/Washington, D.C.-based Mid-Atlantic Sports Network Should Be Carried in N.C. 1/22/2008 02:43:00 AM Eastern

Time Warner Cable said Monday that it would appeal an arbitrator's conclusion that it discriminated against Mid-Atlantic Sports Network in a carriage dispute.

Baltimore Orioles

"We respectfully disagree with the arbitrator's decision and will be appealing it," Time Warner said. "There is simply no basis to conclude that Time Warner Cable's decision not to provide broad distribution of a regional sports network that features teams from Baltimore and Washington, D.C., on its systems in North Carolina was in any way improper.”

The cable operator continued, "Rather, it reflected our editorial and business judgment that a service featuring distant teams was of little interest to the great majority of our customers in North Carolina and that the bulk of our customers shouldn't be forced to absorb the costs of programming that is of interest only to a few. We also believe it is inappropriate for government to intervene in private carriage decisions."

In granting Time Warner's and Comcast's bid to divvy up Adelphia Communications’ cable systems back in 2005, the Federal Communications Commission required that they submit to arbitration if negotiations with an unaffiliated RSN reached an impasse.

Cable operators have been caught between a regulatory rock and a hard place. Operators have been under pressure from the FCC and legislators not to deny must-have programming, like college and pro sports, to fans used to getting it over the air or on basic cable. But at the same time, regulators and legislators have complained about soaring cable prices, which, cable operators pointed out, are linked to programming costs.

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