FCC-Appointed Arbitrator Orders Carriage of MASN on Time Warner Cable in North Carolina
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – A second FCC-appointed arbitrator has found Time Warner Cable guilty of discrimination against an independent sports network and has ordered that the network be carried by the cable company to more than one million North Carolina households.
The second consecutive arbitration decision against the cable operator dramatically punctuates its years-long campaign of discrimination against MASN, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, and paves the way for the return of Major League Baseball and North Carolina sports programming to more than one million North Carolina Time Warner cable subscribers.
The Arbitrator’s decision came after two days of testimony, with a full presentation of evidence and the examination of witnesses. It further builds the case against Time Warner Cable in its efforts to deny local sports programming to its customers that is available on other cable and satellite services in North Carolina.
The Arbitrator denied Time Warner Cable’s request to vacate the previous Arbitrator’s decision that Time Warner Cable discriminated against MASN in favor of its own affiliated programming. In addition, the Arbitrator supplemented the record with new findings of discrimination against MASN, while rejecting Time Warner Cable’s attempted business justification for treating MASN differently than one of the cable giant’s own affiliated networks.
For more than three years, Time Warner Cable has refused to carry MASN, which airs more than 320 Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals and more than 200 NCAA Division I college football, basketball and lacrosse contests.
In the historic award, the Arbitrator wrote:
“For the reasons stated above, and based on the applicable standards of federal law, the Arbitrator concludes that TWC did discriminate against MASN.”
“The Arbitrator hereby awards carriage of MASN on TWC’s cable systems in MASN’s North Carolina MLB television territory.”
MASN’s exclusive television territory in North Carolina includes the five eastern Designated Market Areas (DMAs). The network shares telecast rights in two DMA’s in the western-central part of the state.
MASN’s exclusive television territory in North Carolina includes the DMAs of Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Raleigh-Durham, Greenville-New Bern-Washington, Wilmington, and Florence-Myrtle Beach.
MASN’s shared territory includes the DMAs of Charlotte and Greensboro-High Point-Winston-Salem.
As part of the 2006 Adelphia Order, federal regulators allowed some independent programmers to seek arbitration as a remedy to fairly settle carriage disputes.
“Not one but two impartial arbitrators have now ruled that Time Warner should carry MASN. For the good of North Carolina collegiate sports, the fans and the national pastime, it’s time to move beyond the lawyers and litigating, and get on with delivering this important local programming,” said David C. Frederick, MASN's lead attorney.
“We are ready to make MASN available immediately to all of Time Warner’s North Carolina customers.”
In January, the first Arbitrator appointed by the FCC found overwhelming evidence of Time Warner Cable’s malfeasance towards the independent sports network, MASN.
In the interim award in January, he wrote, “The conclusion that Time Warner deliberately discriminated against MASN is inescapable from the documents and testimony.” He noted that Time Warner “had both motive and opportunity to discriminate” adding that “all of TWC’s efforts went into figuring out ways to avoid putting MASN on the air.”
After Time Warner Cable’s lawyers complained that the first Arbitrator somehow showed bias by speaking to the media after rendering his decision, a replacement Arbitrator was named. After the second two-day arbitration, the replacement Arbitrator reached the same conclusion.
Four of the five largest pay-television providers in North Carolina (including DirecTV, Dish Network, Mediacom and Charter) presently carry MASN on the same terms and conditions as the Arbitrator ordered Time Warner Cable to carry MASN.
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