It wasn't a home run, but Cablevision Systems Corp. won the first round in
federal court against a satellite-master-antenna (SMATV) system operator that
allegedly poached inside wiring from the cable company in a Yonkers, N.Y.,
A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
ruled in favor of the MSO's summary-judgment request on several issues in the
case, which hinges on plant access and ownership. But other issues will have to
go to trial, according to a ruling issued by Judge Colleen McMahon Oct. 21.
Cablevision -- operating in Westchester County, N.Y., as CSC Holdings Inc. --
sued the SMATV operator, Digitech TV Corp. Inc., in state court in 2001 over
access to a three-story condominium.
Digitech, an unfranchised video provider, places a DirecTV Inc. receiver on
the roof and distributes programming to multiple-dwelling units.
Cablevision has a nonexclusive-access agreement with the condo, dating to
1995, according to court documents.
In April 2001, Digitech signaled its intent to also serve the building, using
Cablevision's unused drops. The company and condo managers cited Federal
Communications Commission policy, which allows the building management to invoke
'unit-by-unit home-run procedures' to take over existing cable plant. That means
the competitor uses Cablevision-installed plant in the home run, or common area,
of the building.
Cablevision got a temporary restraining order against Digitech in state
court, but then the dispute was moved to federal court in White Plains, N.Y.,
for final disposition.
Judge McMahon said the home-run provision can't be used if Cablevision still
serves the building. Cablevision owns the wires and never gave up control, she
Some issues still need to be tried, such as determining what parts of the
plant are in common area and which is considered in-home
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