Several New York state lawmakers introduced legislation
Tuesday intended to force Cablevision Systems Corp.'s hand and make it carry Yankees Entertainment &
Sports Network on its basic tier.
Mimicking a federal law that requires cable operators that own programming to
carry independent cable programmers on equitable terms, the bill "would give the
state of New York the ability to take action when such a dispute arises and
federal regulators opt not to intercede," according to a statement.
Two state senators and an assemblyman introduced the bill.
"It is terribly wrong when programming is kept from viewers because of the
anti-competitive actions of cable operators that happen to own competing
programming," Assemblyman Alex Gromack (D-Congers) said. "In this case, every
day, residents in the communities I represent tell me they are deeply
saddened and outraged that they cannot watch Yankees games simply because
Cablevision does not want the YES Network competing against Cablevision's own
sports services, MSG [Madison Square Garden Network] and Fox Sports New York."
The dispute between YES and Cablevision has gotten progressively
worse over the past two months, with YES filing an antitrust suit against
Cablevision last month.
YES Network knows, and can verify, that the only reason the YES
Network is not being carried on Cablevision's systems is because Cablevision does not want
YES competing with Cablevision's own sports services, MSG and Fox Sports New York," YES chairman Leo J. Hindery Jr. said.
"There is simply no other reason, for every other cable operator in the
Greater New York area is today carrying the YES Network in basic," he added.
Cablevision took issue with Hindery's portrayal of the situation. "This is
the latest YES Network attempt to pressure Cablevision into forcing all of our
customers to pay $72 million per year to watch Yankee games on cable, whether they
want to or not," according to a statement. "Not only is this proposed
legislation pre-empted by federal law, but it also ignores Cablevision's fair and
nondiscriminatory offers to the YES Network that have all been rejected by
And the National Cable & Telecommunications Association took Cablevision's side: "The legislation
introduced in New York is an improper intrusion into cable-programming-carriage
decisions where Congress has decided that state regulation is