Britt’s call for FCC-sanctioned arbitration rings hollow in light of refusal to abide by arbitrators’ rulings
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Testifying today before the Senate Commerce Committee, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt lauded himself for “asking the FCC... to update its rules with new measures that would protect consumers, such as interim carriage and dispute resolution procedures.”
Britt’s comments today echoed his call one year ago when he offered to “commence an arbitration proceeding immediately before the FCC” to resolve a carriage dispute with News Corporation.
Yet in the one case where the FCC has authorized binding arbitration to resolve a carriage dispute, Time Warner Cable itself has refused to honor the arbitrator’s order, and the FCC has refused to enforce the arbitrator’s decision.
Mandatory arbitration was authorized under the Adelphia Order in 2006, when Time Warner Cable voluntarily agreed to submit to arbitration with independent RSNs in exchange for the right to add hundreds of thousands of new subscribers to its rolls by purchasing the bankrupt Adelphia cable.
MASN has won two separate arbitrations by independent arbitrators and those decisions were then affirmed by the Media Bureau at the FCC in 2008. Yet, rather than abiding by the decisions of the arbitrators, Time Warner continues to appeal.
“We salute Mr. Britt’s commitment to binding arbitration as a means to resolve carriage disputes,” said David Frederick, counsel to MASN. “After three-and-a-half years of delay, we call on him to abide by his own suggestions, and honor the decision in the arbitration to which his company is a party.”
MASN, the television home of the Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles and hundreds of NCAA Division I football, basketball and lacrosse games, is an independent regional sports network televised throughout the mid-Atlantic region. In North Carolina, where Time Warner is the largest cable operator, MASN is currently carried by eight cable and satellite providers.