The battle between Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) FiOS is going to the Federal Communications Commission, as the telco says that the MSO is wrongfully blocking it from programming the HD version of Madison Square Garden network, Multichannel News reports. Apart from the intense competition, the suit is driven by a tangle of federal rules that lay out what kinds of programming can and must be sold to cable and satellite operators. Because the MSG HD service is neither — it is delivered “terrestrially” — it falls into a protected gap.
From its vantage point, Verizon argues that by only making the non-HD, standard definition programming from the MSG sports network available to FiOS, Cablevision is denying it a unique “must have” service. But as MCN points out, the FCC rules simply require that sports coverage be universally accessible — it doesn’t say anything specific about the HD version, which Cablevision considers a clear competitive advantage.
The FCC is already considering whether to close the “terrestrial loophole,” something being fought by affected MSOs. Verizon is pressing for a decision from the FCC within five months.