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October 9, 2015

Court Rules Cable Owned Stations Have to Be Provided to Satellites

by Danny Gallagher, posted Mar 12th 2010 8:40PM
A gavelOnce again, Lady Justice has struck a blow of freedom and equality for TV watchers everywhere, just the way our Founding Fathers intended (even though they never owned TVs).

A U.S. Appeals Court in D.C. refused to change laws that required cable companies to provide channels they own to satellite carriers on equal terms. Comcast and Cablevision have been trying to overturn the law in open court.

That means that thanks to Comcast's ownership of NBC-Universal, people who watch TV on satellites will have to endure marathons of 'To Catch a Predator' and Keith Olbermann's giant talking head like the rest of us.

The cable companies sought to overturn the rule because, as one Cablevision press release put it, "[the] rules are based on an outdated and obsolete view of the competitive landscape."

Sure, forcing people to join certain cable companies to get their favorite channels makes sense in the short term, but it would kill their properties in the long run. By eliminating channels from certain services just because you own them also limits the number of eyeballs watching them. How does having a smaller audience for your show improve the value of it?

Where would it end? Thanks to Comcast's thinking, now that they own the majority of NBC-Universal, that means every NBC property from their cable networks to their main channel would only appear on Comcast cable boxes. This is just another attempt to chip away at the membrane of federal regulation.

And why do I get the feeling that my cable bill is about to surpass my monthly car payment?

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I don't see how this is any different than DirecTV owning the NFL and NCAA tournament packages. Why can't I get those on cable?

March 13 2010 at 2:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kyle's comment

There is a big difference. Out of market packages, are not a must have for most, and just a value added service.

Out of market sports packages are owned by the leagues. They sell them to the highest bidder, whether it is cable, satellite and both. DirecTV is wise to pay for exclusivity for NFL Sunday Ticket, as it gives them an advantage, since satellite technology doesn't have the options for high speed internet, video on demand and phone service like cable does.

Local sports, on the other hand, are more of a must have, and for a cable company to own the local sports rights and deny competing TV services from having them is monopolistic.

March 13 2010 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cable companies have been withholding local interest channels from competitors, not major national networks.

In New York, Cablevision owns News 12 and Time Warner owns NY1. Both are local news stations that were created to only be on cable, and give incentive to choose cable and not satellite or FiOS. It would be nice to have these on other platforms, but not a dealbreaker.

The real issue has been local sports. In Comcast's hometown of Philadelphia, they own the local sports network, Comcast Sportsnet (as well as the 76ers and Flyers). They have refused to offer these local games to DirecTV or Dish Network. This is the sign of a monopoly.

In New York, Madison Square Garden has refused to offer the HD feeds of their two sports networks to Verizon or Dish Network, although they have the SD version. Up until earlier this year, MSG and its cable networks were owned by Cablevision, before spinning it off. Does this ruling apply to MSG, since they now aren't technically owned by a cable company, although they have the same management led by the Dolan family?

March 13 2010 at 1:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not to mention that not anyone can just call up Comcast and have it at their house sense it's not available everywhere.

March 13 2010 at 1:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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