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AT&T Files Complaint With FCC Against Cablevision

AT&T Corp. filed a complaint with the FCC against Cablevision Systems Corp., claiming the cable company is unfairly withholding “must have” regional sports programming in Connecticut, hindering AT&T’s attempt to successfully launch its competitive IP video service U-verse.

Cablevision subsidiary Rainbow Media is withholding Fox Sports Network New York, MSG Network and Fox Sports Network New England, according to the complaint. Rainbow wholly owns and operates FSNNY and MSG, which air New York Knicks basketball and New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres hockey. Rainbow owns 50% of SportsChannel New England LP, which owns and operates FSN NE. FSN NE holds the rights to air Boston Celtics basketball.

 In the complaint, AT&T claims it is being denied access because it does not have a cable franchise in the state and will not gain access until the company obtains cable television franchises. AT&T counters that state regulators hold that AT&T’s video service is not subject to the cable franchising requirement. AT&T also claimed Rainbow refused to license one RSN because “Cablevision hopes later to sell its interest in that RSN.”

 In response to the complaint, a Rainbow Media spokesperson said today, "We have reached programming agreements with a broad range of distributors including DIRECTV, Echostar, Verizon, RCN and even AT&T itself, but have outstanding questions regarding AT&T's violation of prior distribution agreements and about certain aspects of AT&T's technology and the protection of our programming."

 Raindow Media declined to comment on details regarding its problems with AT&T’s technology and the protection of its content, but said that these issues would become clear when it formulates the official response to the claim.

 AT&T’s U-verse is a completely IP-based video service that can be packaged with high speed internet over the company’s fiber network.

 “AT&T is bringing Connecticut customers a new choice for their video provider,” the company said today, “and being able to deliver popular regional sports programming is essential to serving those customers. We believe our filed complaint clearly outlines our position, and we’re hopeful that this matter will be quickly resolved so we can continue to bring our customers the programming they enjoy.”