Cablevision Anti-Verizon Suit Tossed

A judge tossed out a Cablevision Systems Corp. lawsuit that sought to void Verizon Communications Inc.’s franchise in a New York City suburb.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Anthony Parga, in a 10-page ruling dated Jan. 23, dismissed the action brought last fall by Cablevision against Massapequa Park, N.Y., and Verizon.

The village passed a resolution Sept. 26 awarding Verizon a nonexclusive cable franchise to roll out its Verizon FiOS TV service in the town. Cablevision promptly filed suit, alleging that the village board violated both New York State and local open-public-meetings laws in granting Verizon the franchise.

“Overall, the record as a whole fails to establish any basis to declare the resolution void,” Parga wrote in his ruling. “Competition is the hallmark of our economy, and the board’s action merely served to bring competition to the residents of Massapequa Park in the cable services available.”

“We are actively considering our options, including an appeal,” Cablevision said in a prepared statement. “But it is significant that the New York State Public Service Commission invalidated major elements of the special deal the phone company was given by officials in MassapequaPark and made important revisions to this franchise to promote fair competition on a level playing field and local control.”

For example, the PSC mandated that Verizon have a larger indemnification obligation to the town than under the initial Massapequa Park franchise, and that the telco must provide adequate access for public, educational and government, or so-called PEG, programming on its video system.

Verizon launched its video service in Massapequa Park, marking its first rollout in New York State.

In related news, the New York State PSC Wednesday approved Verizon FiOS TV cable-TV franchises for the Long Island communities of Nyack and South Nyack.