Second Circuit Denies Review of FCC Cablevision Decisions

A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday denied Cablevision/MSG Holdings' petition to review the FCC's orders that Cablevision start making the HD feeds of its regionals sports net available to U-Verse and Fios.

The court also lifted the temporary stay it granted Nov. 23.

The full FCC affirmed the Media Bureau decision Nov. 11, with Nov. 25 the date by which Cablevision had to start delivering the programming. But Cablevision then turned to the Second Circuit, seeking review of that decision. The Second Circuit provided a temporary stay while it considered Cablevision's appeal.

"We are disappointed by today's ruling and are exploring our options," said Cablevision in a statement. "We have raised serious concerns regarding the manipulation of federal law by Verizon and AT&T, the nation's two largest phone companies. In a highly competitive market like New York, consumers are best served when video providers are allowed to compete, not just on price, but on product differentiation. Today's decision only serves to discourage companies from investing in unique offerings, which in the end hurts both competition and consumers."

The FCC's Media Bureau ruled back in September that Cablevision/Madison Square Garden Network violated FCC program access rules by withholding HD versions of MSG and MSG-Plus from Verizon's FiOS and and AT&T's U-Verse multichannel video services.

The FCC ruled that it was an "unfair act" that "had the effect" of "significantly hindering AT&T [and Verizon] from providing a competing video service."

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.