FCC’s MASN/TWC North Carolina decision upheld


GavelThe FCC agreed with Time Warner Cable that there were reasons to deny the request for carriage in North Carolina TCR Sports Broadcasting Holding LLP, d/b/a Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, and now the Fourth Circuit Court has agreed with the FCC.

MASN proposed to bring coverage of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals to North Carolina, and wanted access to Time Warner Cable subscribers throughout the state. And it wanted the carriage to be on an analog tier.

It also wanted $0.60 per subscriber, an amount that TWC believed would cost it $10M annually and would have to be passed along to subscribers.

And that was a problem, because TWC was not able to detect significant interest in watching Orioles baseball, and detected even less interest in the Nationals.

TWC provided sworn statements by execs involved in the decision which MASN challenged as being produced after the fact. However, the testimony was unrefuted. And TWC was able to find an earlier preserved communication between two employees discussing the lack of local NC interest in the Orioles.

In the end, the Court said that the FCC’s ruling in the case was anything but arbitrary and capricious – and said that the procedure was conducted on its own merits and with full regard for “legitimate business practices common to a competitive marketplace.” The Court said the preponderance of evidence was weighted toward TWC and the FCC could not be faulted for ruling in its favor.