Cablevision has quietly challenged the FCC's decision to
close the terrestrial exemption. That exemption had excluded terrestrially
delivered cable networks, like many regional sports nets, from the FCC's rule
mandating access to competing distributors of networks in which a distributor
has a financial interest.
According to a copy of the petition obtained by B&C, Cablevision is appealing
"on the grounds that the order exceeds the commission's jurisdiction and
authority; is contrary to constitutional right; violates the Communications Act
of 1934, the Administrative Procedure Act, or other statutes; and is arbitrary,
capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law."
Rather than appealing the decision at the FCC, the company
went straight to the court, according to a source. The petition to the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit as filed March 15. A Cablevision
spokesperson had no comment.
The FCC ruled back in January that cable operators who do
not share their owned terrestrially-delivered regional sports networks with
their competitors will be presumed to be in violation of FCC rules against
unfair acts or practices.
They get to rebut the presumption, but the FCC majority made
clear that it was taking action against what it saw as a loophole for
multichannel video providers to withhold must-have programming from
MVPDs will not be able to deliver a standard-definition
version of a regional sports network and withhold the HD version as a way of
complying with access requirements. The HD version will be treated as a
separate service for purposes of filing program access complaints.
Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, has assured
legislators vetting its proposed joint venture with NBCU that it will not
challenge the FCC's decision.
Cablevision has not been shy about taking FCC decisions to
court, including challenging the FCC's renewal of the program access rules (it
lost that one) and asking the High Court earlier this year to review the
must-carry rules that require cable operators to carry TV station signals.