The FCC today has ruled that a pair of high-definition regional sports channels operated by Madison Square Garden must be offered to Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s U-Verse video services. The move comes after the phone companies filed a complaint in July that said MSG hindered competition by refusing to sell the formats in the greater New York region — limiting their availability to Cablevision, which spun off MSG last year. ”By directing Cablevision and MSG to make their high-definition programming available within 30 days, the decision promises to give consumers in New York and New Jersey a choice to obtain the sports programming they want,” Verizon SVP and deputy general counsel Mike Glover said in a statement. Verizon also had to petition the FCC in 2006 to gain access to standard-definition versions of the channels.
Cablevision will appeal the FCC decision. The cable company said in a statement that ”the data clearly demonstrates that there has been no competitive harm to the nation’s two largest phone companies as a result of not having two HD channels they already receive in SD….Instead of competing on the merits in the marketplace, Verizon and AT&T are manipulating federal law to gain an unfair advantage.”