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FCC Affirms Media Bureau Decision Against MSG In Program Access Complaints - Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Affirms Media Bureau Decision Against MSG In Program Access Complaints

MSG has until Nov. 25 to start making HD feeds of RSNs available to Verizon, AT&T U-verse, SNET
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The FCC has denied a request by Madison Square Garden and Cablevision to review a Media Bureau decision that it must make high-definition feed of its MSG and MSG-Plus regional sports nets available to AT&T and Southern New England Telephone Company in Connecticut, and Verizon in New York and Buffalo.

The commission affirmed the original order and refused a request to stay its effective date, though it found that "in order to provide sufficient time for compliance," it would give them 15 days from the Nov. 10 order release date to provide the programming.

That came a day after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied Cablevision/MSG's request that the court stay the FCC decisions.

The Media Bureau had initially said the feeds had to be provided by Nov. 14, while a deal had to be struck on reasonable terms and conditions by Oct. 22. They now have until Nov. 25 to make the feeds available.

The Media Bureau had ruled that Cablevision/Madison Square Garden Network violated FCC program access rules by withholding HD versions of the RSNs.

The FCC said that it was an "unfair act" that "had the effect" of "significantly hindering AT&T [and Verizon] from providing a competing video service." The commission reaffirmed that finding Thursday, saying the bureau's decision was reasoned and proper, that it did not disregard evidence, and that "the Bureau's conclusion that Defendants' conduct here was, on balance, 'unfair' was based on a careful weighing of the evidence presented in this case..."

The decisions follow the FCC's move to close the so-called terrestrial loophole/exemption that had prevented access complaints against withholding of affiliated terrestrially-delivered networks. The FCC gave AT&T/SNET and Verizon a chance to re-file their complaints under a new standard of unfairness, which they did.

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