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GSN Files Carriage Complaint Against Cablevision

The Game Show Network has filed a program carriage complaint against Cablevision, saying it had used its market power to favor its own affiliated network at GSN's expense in violation of FCC rules.

It wants the FCC to force Cablevision to carry the network on what it says are "nondiscriminatory terms and conditions" and pay a fine. FCC rules prevent an MVPD from discriminating against unaffiliated nets in favor of ones in which it has a financial interest.

GSN says Cablevision's move of the channel last February from the basic tier to a male-targeted sports tier estranged GSN from its primarily female audience.

GSN says that move was inconsistent with other operators who carry GSN on basic rather than specialty tiers, and that the move favored its similarly situated affiliated networks, We tv and spin-off Wedding Central, which it did not also reposition.

GSN said the move caused its network's ratings to "crater" in the New York market, the largest TV market in the country according to Nielsen.

GSN also claims that when a member of its management committee who is also a DirecTV executive sought to help "undo" Cablevision's move of the channel, Cablevision suggested a resolution that would include DirecTV carriage of Wedding Central, which that company had already decided not to carry and rejected. GSN says that Cablevision's tying of the "fair distribution" of an unaffiliated network with the "unearned benefits" of an affiliated network constituted a second, separate, violation of FCC program carriage rules.

Cablevision was dismissive of the complaint. "The programming comparisons made by GSN -- WE tv's programming for all women vs. old game shows -- make a mockery of the FCC's program carriage rules. We believe the FCC will see through this self-serving ploy and reject GSN's claim."

"Our filing speaks for itself," said GSN in a statement. "Our dealings with Cablevision have been utterly inconsistent with the way in which all of our other clients value and distribute GSN."