Thursday, March 23, 2006

Verizon Complains to FCC Over Cablevision's Negotiating Tactics

Spencer Ante writes on Businessweek Online:

Alexis Johnson is a frustrated foot soldier in an escalating broadband war. Johnson is a director of TV programming at Verizon Communications, and it's his job to line up content for the network his company is building to bring TV programming to phone customers across the country. Just over a year ago, Johnson began negotiating with Rainbow Media Holdings to get access to Rainbow's three regional sports networks, including Fox Sports New York.

It was a critical deal. Rainbow is a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems, which owns and operates the Fox Sports New York and MSG Network and maintains a 50% stake of Fox Sports New England. These networks own the rights to produce and broadcast many of the New York region's top sports teams, including the New York Rangers, the New York Knicks, the New Jersey Devils, and MetroStars, among other teams. Verizon is spending billions of dollars on a fiber-optic network that covers most of the northeastern U.S. seaboard and wants to make sure its customers can choose from a full array of channels.

Johnson strove to clinch an agreement, exchanging calls with Julian Tompkins, a director at Rainbow, over a several-month period starting in February, 2005, according to a Verizon filing with the Federal Communications Commission. But Tompkins never offered Verizon a specific deal, Verizon says.

More here.


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