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Cable Technology Feature Article

November 14, 2012

C-SPAN Faces Antitrust Lawsuit from FAVE-TV's Sky Angel

By Colleen Lynch, TMCnet Contributor

C-SPAN’s parent company, the National Cable Satellite Corporation, has been hit with an antitrust lawsuit by Sky Angel, the operator of FAVE-TV, or Family Values and Entertainment Television.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court within the District of Columbia, and it claims that C-SPAN violated antitrust laws by withdrawing its programming from Sky Angel’s network in 2009. C-SPAN had only appeared on Sky Angel’s lineup for a few days before the National Cable Satellite Corporation had it pulled.

According to the suit, C-SPAN, which produces public interest programming, “ceased to act as a legitimate collaboration among competitors when it withheld C-SPAN’s programming from Sky Angel for anticompetitive purposes.”

The antitrust law firm Rubin PLLC, based in Washington D.C., is representing Sky Angel in the case.

Jonathan Rubin explained their side of the case saying, “Competitors can act in concert if they have a legitimate reason. But, agreeing to withhold programming in order to stifle a new entrant into the marketplace is not a legitimate reason.”

The suit will take on C-SPAN’s board of directors, made up of executives from the top ten cable companies. Rubin claims that the board “authorized C-SPAN to withhold its programming from Sky Angel, hijacked the public service mission of C-SPAN’s legitimate competitor collaboration and repurposed C-SPAN as an instrument to boycott, exclude, injure and destroy Sky Angel.”

The harsh words are based on the fact that all of Sky Angel’s competitors carry C-SPAN, and cutting the program from the network deals a significant blow to the fledgling company.

“It makes no economic sense to forego subscription fees for no legitimate business reason. That’s a classic indicator of anticompetitive intent,” Rubin comments.

The lawsuit additionally states that Sky Angel needs C-SPAN on its lineup “in order to effectively compete.” 

While the FCC (News - Alert) normally handles such disputes, it has decided in this case not to take on Sky Angel.

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Edited by Jamie Epstein

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