Cablevision Says Govt., Nonprofit CouldRetransmit World Series Online

Cablevision has put out a general call to a "government entity" or "non-profit organization" to retransmit Foxs' coverage of the World Series over the Internet.

In its latest appeal to government to help in its retransmission consent battle with Fox, Cablevision issued a release Thursday saying there was an exemption in the Copyright Act giving those entities the right to do so so long as it was not for "any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage" and "without charge to the recipients of the secondary transmission other than assessments necessary to defray the actual and reasonable costs of maintaining and operating the secondary transmission service."

Cablevision said those entities were also excluded by statute from the FCC's retransmission consent regime.

"Under the clear language of this statutory exemption, a governmental entity or non-profit entity could, for the purpose of serving the public interest, retransmit the World Series free over the Internet.  With a simple antenna and Internet streaming capacity, a governmental entity or non-profit organization could do a tremendous public service and extend the reach of this broadcast programming - just as Congress intended," said Cablevision.

For its part, the FCC has recently signaled that the parties should work a deal out and not expect it to intervene. "I am deeply troubled that Cablevision and Fox are spending more time attacking each other through ads and lobbyists than sitting down at the negotiating table," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Oct. 19. "They should spend less time writing publicity-seeking letters to the FCC, and more time at the negotiating table reaching an agreement," said a senior FCC official this week as the World Series came into play.

Cablevision said it was not trying to tell anyone what to do. "The decision whether to retransmit the World Series is one that only a governmental entity or a non-profit organization can make for itself. Cablevision urges any entity interested in providing this public service to independently examine the law."

Cablevision has already said it would reimburse customers for the cost of watching the games online on It has also called on the FCC to intervene to keep Fox stations on the air during negotiations, or to mandate arbitration, including by the FCC if necessary.

Cablevision had no comment on whether it had approached any entities directly, but suggested in its release that it was just putting the idea out there. "Cablevision's purpose in issuing this press release is to heighten public awareness about this existing statutory exemption, and to call upon governmental and non-profit entities to consider making use of it for the World Series and fulfill the critical role that Congress gave them in the dissemination of public broadcasting for free."

A Major League Baseball spokesperson was not available for comment at press time about the league's view of

that suggestion.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.