In what may be a sign of the times, AT&T filed a complaint with the FCC over Cablevision’s refusal to provide sports programming in an AT&T Connecticut market. Cablevision’s Rainbow Media Holdings subsidiary, which operates Fox Sports Network New York, Madison Square Garden Network and Fox Sports Network New England, says it has “…outstanding questions regarding AT&T’s violation of prior distribution agreements and about certain aspects of AT&T’s technology and the protection of our programming.”
Putting their respective arguments aside for a second, this spat highlights an issue on the mind’s of many. Telcos are concerned that vertically integrated MSO’s that own programming assets may withhold rights agreements for those assets, preventing telcos from carrying valuable programming. Sports programming is of particular focus because of the many regional sports programming networks owned by cable MSO’s. Cable MSO’s which own these programming assets feel they are well within their rights to proceed cautiously with TelcoTV providers. The result provides numerous competitive implications with no end in sight.