FCC Grants NYC License to Cablevision Affiliate

DTV Norwich LLC, an affiliate of Cablevision Systems Corp., received a Federal Communications Commission license for wireless services in New York City Thursday, but the agency warned that the affiliate would forfeit the license if it failed to rectify a cross-ownership violation within 270 days.

DTV Norwich bid for the multichannel-video-distribution and data service (MVDDS) license in an FCC auction held in January. The company did so even though agency rules banned the common ownership of an MVDDS license and a cable system in the same market. Cablevision is the region’s dominant cable operator.

DTV Norwich has promised the FCC that it will take the necessary steps to clear up the cross-ownership problem within the allotted 270 days. Cablevision’s wholly owned Rainbow Media Holdings LLC owns 49% of DTV Norwich.

The FCC said it anticipates that Cablevision’s planned spinoff of Rainbow and other steps will cure the cross-ownership violation. The agency said it didn’t want to rush DTV Norwich because it has long opposed requiring a licensee to engage in a “fire sale” that might produce a below-market price for the asset.

If the ownership problem persists, the FCC said it would cancel the license and not return the $24.2 million bid by DTV Norwich.

An MVDDS license is intended for the terrestrial distribution of video programming and one-way high-speed Internet access. MVDDS spectrum is located in the same band used by direct-broadcast satellite providers.