- On May 14, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the FCC’s holding that Time Warner Cable had legitimate and non-discriminatory reasons to carry Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) programming on an analog tier in its North Carolina cable system, and thus did not violate the 1992 Cable Act or the FCC’s 2006 merger conditions for the Time Warner/Comcast purchase of Adelphia. MASN owns the rights to Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals games. It requested carriage with Time Warner, which is an affiliate of Turner South that holds distribution rights to various Atlanta sports teams including the Atlanta Braves. The parties’ negotiations broke down when Time Warner offered to carry MASN content only on its digital sports tier, to which less than half of Time Warner’s customers subscribed, or on an analog tier, to which only customers in eastern North Carolina have access. An arbitrator and the FCC’s Media Bureau both held that Time Warner’s offer was unlawfully discriminatory, but the full FCC reversed, crediting Time Warner’s assertion that the costs of carrying the content outweighed any expected benefit. The appeals court rejected MASN’s challenge of the decision, holding that MASN “failed to show that, even assuming that it made a prima facie discrimination case, Time Warner did not effectively rebut that case with evidence supporting legitimate, non-discriminatory business reasons for its denial of statewide analog tier carriage, or that the analytical framework applied by the FCC to its decision in this regard was erroneous.” TCR Sports Broad. Holding, LLP v. FCC, No. 11-1151 (4th Cir.).
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In the courts
- Arent Fox LLP
- Ross A. Buntrock , Jonathan E. Canis , Michael B. Hazzard , Stephanie A. Joyce and Joseph P. Bowser
- May 21 2012
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