Sports programming at core of AT&T-Cablevision dispute

AT&T thinks it should get high definition versions of New York sports telecasts on Cablevision Systems-owned MSG Network and MSG Plus and if the MSO won't negotiate in good faith to deliver them the telco will move the matter to the FCC. The phone company made this clear in a letter to Cablevision.

Sports programming and who controls it is a hot ticket. In San Diego, Cox and AT&T went round and round about coverage of the Padres baseball team until apparently resolving the issue. DirecTV used Comcast's iron grip on Philadelphia sports teams' coverage as a reason to object to the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, claiming that Comcast could use something akin to its "terrestrial loophole" to keep NBC programming away from the satellite provider. And Verizon and Cablevision have been fighting over New York sports for about as long as Verizon has been offering FiOS.

In January the FCC conceded that exclusive sports programming could harm competitors and said that it would listen to complaints from competing companies and potentially order MSOs to open up their programming. Since then, the issue has continued to bubble, as shown by the most recent AT&T news.

Speaking of sports programming (and this might be a stretch since many don't believe car racing is a sport), Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have joined DirecTV in committing to television the NASCAR Coke 400 in 3D July 3. Would that make it July 3D?

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