Recent MVPD entrant Verizon via its FiOS service says Cablevision is denying it access to the HD version of its Madison Square Garden network, a key local sports programming service in the New York DMA, and has taken its complaint to the FCC.
The web is home to two NBA and three NHL franchises, including the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres.
Verizon says the service is must-have programming in the greater New York area, and would like the FCC to rule on the matter within five months.
The denial of access by Cablevision is no surprise to Verizon – the same scenario played out when it earlier attempted to get access to standard-definition TV versions of the MSG.
Verizon says that not only is Cablevision fully aware of what it’s doing, it’s actually boasting about it to analysts and viewers, calling itself the only high definition source for these live basketball and hockey broadcasts.
RBR/TVBR observation: Even hands-off FCC commissioners like free marketer Robert McDowell have been known to step in when it comes to local sports programming. One of his first acts upon joining the FCC was to help Washingtonians get access to MLB Washington Nationals games. If we were gambling types, we’d have to make Verizon the favorite on this one.