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JPL
Premium
join:2007-04-04
Downingtown, PA
kudos:4

1 recommendation

reply to cypherstream

Re: Can this apply to Comcast Sportsnet Philly?

said by cypherstream:

I'd love to see Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia come to DirecTV.

Can they use the outcome of this case to make it happen for that network too?

I went to catch the Phillies game last night on MASN HD. Guess what... stupid error message saying the game is not available in this area. Ok so then I went to check out the Yankee's game on SNY. Same message.

Whats with DirecTV padding their HD channel count when you can't even watch half of the sports channels due to some archaic blackout restrictions?

That's all part of this. I just posted this story on a directv forum for that reason. This story means that DirecTV customers will soon be given access to CSN Philly. Here's the deal. Cable companies are not allowed to withhold channels from their competition. CV tried to do that with their Rainbow channels with FiOS, but the FCC forced the issue.

This ruling concerns one particular part of the law called the terrestrial loophole. Basically it goes like this - if I have a cable company and I have a channel that I distribute, if I bounce said channel off a satellite, I can't prevent you, my competition, from carrying that channel. If, however, I only distribute the channel terrestrially, I can. 18 months ago the FCC ruled that that's no longer the case.

Verizon brought a case to the FCC arguing that RSNs in particular give one provider an unfair advantage. Mainly because they represent professional sports teams, and those teams, in addition to being representative of the area, are a fixed commodity. Verizon can't go out and start a new NHL franchise in NY just so they can compete with CV, in other words. What's more Verizon demonstrated that such arrangements hurt competition in those markets (e.g. here in Philly, they demonstrated that the market penetration for satellite dishes was well below the national average, and they attributed that difference to the lack of RSN coverage by DirecTV and Dish - Comcast prevents them from carrying CSN).

The FCC agreed with Verizon's petition. The ruling, however, didn't automatically close the loophole. The FCC said that each provider wanting such a channel would need to plead the case before the FCC. Verizon had to go to the FCC and demonstrate why not having MSG HD put them at a disadvantage. This statement by the FCC is basically the FCC's ruling in that one particular case. DirecTV and Dish already have similar claims to the FCC for CSN Philly. This decision by the FCC indicates that they're prepared to move forward with forcing carriage of RSNs. DirecTV will benefit from this as well.

As for the whole contract thing - why can't CV just charge Verizon a million dollars per customer for MSG HD? Because they can't. The rules on contract negotiation are very clear, and are long-standing. CV tried playing these games with channels like AMC when FiOS first came out, and the FCC came down hard on CV for doing that. The contract negotiation piece, in other words, is a long standing rule that's worked very well in such cases. All this ruling does is it forces CV to offer MSG HD and MSG+ HD to Verizon and AT&T. The contract has yet to be worked out, but the timeline is clear - they have 30 days to get there. And rules are already in place to prevent CV to engage in usery against Verizon and AT&T. The FCC has used those rules in the past, and they will apply them again.

The only wrinkle in this whole tale (about cable companies not withholding channels) really came down when DirecTV was owned by News Corp. The rules are specific to cable companies. There was a belief that there was some wiggle room if the company who owned the channel was a satellite provider instead (News Corp is the parent company of Fox, and the FCC was concerned that News Corp would prevent cable companies from carrying the fox suite of channels). I believe this latest ruling does much to clear that up.

As for Sunday Ticket - totally different issue entirely. If MSG were owned by an independent third party, they could decide NOT to give distribution of the channel to whomever they desired. It's the fact that MSG is owned by CV, a cable provider, that this is even an issue. ST is owned by the NFL - a totally independent third party.