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Sports blackout for overbuilder RCN

The FCC last week tossed out RCN's request that the agency force Cablevision to permit RCN to carry Fox Sports/NY and the Madison Square Garden Network, even though the networks are distributed terrestrially in the New York area.

RCN argued that Cablevision illegally circumvented program-access rules, which require programming be offered to all multichannel providers in a market when it is transmitted to the local cable monopoly by satellite. The FCC said the programmers legitimately transmitted the coverage terrestrially to cable operators to offer a "hyper-local" service.

Cheap government money for cable

The federal government would provide loans at 2% interest to cable companies and other broadband providers that roll out services in markets with fewer than 20,000 people, according to a bill introduced by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.). Up to $3 billion in loans would be available through Sept. 30, 2006. Reps. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) sponsored similar legislation in the House.

FCC retains cap on cable pole rates

Pending a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court next year, the FCC is delaying reconsideration of a pole-attachment–pricing formula for cable operators offering Internet services. With its price formula in effect at least until the court's ruling, the FCC on May 25 also rejected Alabama Power's bid to raise annual per-pole rates for cable Internet providers from $7.47 to $38.81.