Court Upholds FCC On TWC/MASN Ruling

A federal appeals court has upheld an FCC decision that Time Warner Cable had not discriminated against regional sports network MASN (the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) by not carrying it on an analog tier in North Carolina.

MASN owner TCR Sports Broadcasting Holding had appealed the FCC decision, saying the FCC's order should be vacated and remanded, but the court ruled that the FCC had not acted either arbitrarily or capriciously in finding that TWC had provided "legitimate and non-discriminatory reasons," for declining analog carriage.

The court said it found no reason to challenge the FCC's "individual determination" that it was "legitimate business practices common to a competitive marketplace" that drove TWC's decision not to give analog carriage to unaffiliated RSN MASN--TWC did offer digital carriage.

"We find the evidence supports the FCC's determination that Time Warner's decision was "driven by factors other than a desire to force [Mid-Atlantic Sports Network] out of business or discourage [Mid-Atlantic Sports Network] from entering the market," the court concluded.

The FCC commissioners in 2010 reversed a then-two-year old bureau-level decision and concluded that TWC did not discriminate against MASN and the cable operator didn't have to deliver the regional sports network and its Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles games on an analog tier to its subs in North Carolina.

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.