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C-SPAN Hit With Antitrust Lawsuit From Sky Angel

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Cable Satellite Corporation, owner of C-SPAN, the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is the target of an antitrust lawsuit filed today by Sky Angel U.S., LLC, the Naples, Florida-based operator of the multichannel internet-cable TV service, FAVE-TV(SM). 

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claims that C-SPAN violated the antitrust laws when it withdrew its programming from Sky Angel in 2009 after appearing on Sky Angel's line up for only a few days. C-SPAN covers the proceedings of the U.S. Congress and carries other public affairs programming. The non-profit National Cable Satellite Corporation is owned and operated by the U.S. cable industry.

The suit alleges that although C-SPAN produces public interest programming, "it ceased to act as a legitimate collaboration among competitors when it withheld C-SPAN's programming from Sky Angel for anticompetitive purposes." The complaint alleges that C-SPAN "harmed competition in the relevant market by depriving Sky Angel of C-SPAN's highly valued, one-of-a-kind programming, which Sky Angel needs in order effectively to compete ..." The complaint notes that all of Sky Angel's competitors carry C-SPAN.

Jonathan Rubin, of Washington, D.C.-based Rubin PLLC, an antitrust law firm representing Sky Angel, said, "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 claims that C-SPAN's Board of Directors, composed of executives from the top ten cable companies, "who 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."

"It makes no economic sense to forego subscription fees for no legitimate business reason," Rubin said. "That's a classic indicator of anticompetitive intent."

The FCC normally handles program access disputes between cable TV companies and programmers affiliated with other cable or satellite providers, but has declined to exert its authority over Sky Angel, the suit says.

The lawsuit seeks damages against C-SPAN for violating the antitrust laws and an injunction that would require C-SPAN to honor the terms of its contract with Sky Angel for ten years.

The case name is Sky Angel U.S., LLC v. National Cable Satellite Corp., No. 1:12-cv-01834 (D.D.C., filed November 13, 2012).

About Rubin PLLC

Rubin PLLC is a Washington, D.C.-based antitrust law and competition policy law firm of Jonathan L. Rubin, a trial attorney, economist, and internationally recognized expert in antitrust law.  With support from a trusted network of corresponding affiliates, Rubin PLLC serves consumers and businesses in all aspects of U.S. competition law and policy.  Learn more at RubinPLLC.com.

About Sky Angel U.S., LLC

Sky Angel provides an affordable, nationwide, subscription-based service of exclusively family-friendly real-time video and audio programming, including many of the nation's most popular non-broadcast networks. Sky Angel offers faith-based programming and FAVE-TV(SM).  The Sky Angel system utilizes satellite uplinks and downlinks, fiber it controls, and subscribers' broadband Internet connections to aggregate and distribute multiple channels of video programming to proprietary set-top boxes which decrypt the programming and deliver it directly to subscribers' television sets. Learn more at SkyAngel.com and FAVETV.com.

SOURCE Rubin PLLC

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