RCN Loses FCC Appeal

RCN Corp. lost an appeal of a 1999 decision by the Federal Communications Commission, which ruled that Cablevision Systems Corp. was allowed to offer overflow sports programming from Madison Square Garden Network and Fox Sports New York on its MetroChannels service.

Cablevision often schedules professional-sports games on MetroChannels when it has scheduling conflicts on MSGN or FSNY.

The MSO is allowed to offer MetroChannels exclusively on cable since the networks are terrestrial and delivered via fiber.

RCN had argued that Cablevision violated sections of the 1992 Cable Act by refusing to negotiate a carriage agreement for the overflow programming. In the decision, released Wednesday, the FCC rejected the argument, noting that exclusivity rules only apply to satellite-delivered networks.

The commission also noted that the sports programming Cablevision offers on the overflow channels 'is only a small part of the programming offered on the MetroChannels, and a majority of this sports programming remains available to RCN via MSG, FSNY and other outlets.'

RCN spokeswoman Nancy Bavec said Friday that the company was evaluating its pptions regarding the FCC ruling. 'We’re disappointed and certainly not surprised by it,' she added.

FCC commissioner Gloria Tristani was the only member of the agency to dissent on the decision, writing in her appeal that the commission should have granted RCN’s request to be granted discovery documents in the case.