Verizon Seeks FCC Involvement in Dispute With Cablevision

Mar 21, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Verizon Communications said Tuesday it has asked the Federal Communications Commission to step into an ongoing battle with Cablevision Systems over the cable operator’s refusal to negotiate with Verizon for carriage of three Cablevision-owned regional sports channels on Verizon’s new video service.

The phone giant, which is rolling out its new video service in several markets, said it filed a formal program access complaint with the FCC to secure carriage of Fox Sports Network New York, Fox Sports Network New England and Madison Square Garden on systems in New York and New England.

The move highlights the battle shaping up between the telephone companies and cable operators as telcos begin offering video services in a bid to steal customers from cable.

Verizon sees the channels as must-haves because they have broadcast rights to teams such as professional basketball’s New York Knicks and professional hockey’s New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils. Cablevision also owns a 50 percent stake in FSN New England, which holds rights to produce and broadcast pro sports games in Boston, including the Celtics basketball team.

Verizon said the decision to bring the FCC into the matter comes after nearly two years of pressing Cablevision’s programming arm Rainbow Media Holdings to offer deal terms to carry the channels.

“Instead of negotiating provisions of the programming, Cablevision and Rainbow have sought details of Verizon’s video deployment plans-information only valuable to Cablevision in its capacity as the only cable company in many areas where Verizon seeks to provide competition,” Verizon said in a statement.

Said a Rainbow spokesman: “We are in discussions with Verizon and their own spokesperson recently acknowledged these negotiations ‘can take a while.’ It would be more productive for Verizon to negotiate with us than file complaints and issue press releases.”