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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 27, 2010

Cable Providers to Share Sports Programming with Satellite and Phone Co's

By Kelly McGuire, TMCnet Editor

The drama, feuds, legal issues and upset customers that have been surrounding the cable industry the past few weeks seemed to come to a halt the other day once TV and Internet provider returned the Food Network and HGTV to their lineup. 

But now, with recent news that Cablevision, Comcast (News - Alert) and other cable-TV operators may have to share more sports programming with satellite and phone companies under U.S. regulator changes, I feel the pot brewing again.

According to the FCC (News - Alert), which approved the vote four to one on Jan. 20, companies like AT&T and Verizon should not be penalized when their customers are unable to buy access to cable-owned sports shows. 

Numerous complaints spurred this movement, which the FCC can now order cable companies to provide the programming. 

Julius Genachowski (News - Alert), chairman of the FCC, said that the vote was an important step to promote competition. 

“Viewers should not be unfairly forced to choose between the sports teams they love and the provider they prefer,” Genachowski added.

The vote could bring new sports programming by the summer to some television viewers with service from Verizon, AT&T (News - Alert), DirecTV Inc. and Dish Network Corp., said Paul Gallant, an analyst with Concept Capital’s Washington Research Group, in an e-mail.

Disputes over sporting events have flared between cable companies, which own regional sports networks that control coverage rights, and telephone providers, which increasingly offer television service.

While the cable companies can seek to rebut the accusation, after all the hype and press they’ve been getting, it may be better for them to just sit on this one and deal.

Kelly McGuire is a TMCnet Web editor, covering CRM and workforce technologies, and anchor of its daily TMC Newsroom video broadcast. Kelly also writes about eco-friendly 'green' technologies and smart grids, compiling TMCnet's weekly e-Newsletters on those topics, as well as the cable industry. To read more of Kelly's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Kelly McGuire