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DOJ Investigates TelcoTV Complaints

WASHINGTON: Antitrust regulators are looking into complaints from the nation’s largest telcos that cable operators are holding back their own content. The New York Times said this week that officials at the Justice Department were investigating charges leveled by Verizon and AT&T that cable operators like Cablevision and Cox are improperly withholding shows they produce. The probe is part of a larger sweep to ferret out antitrust violations across all business sectors.

Access to hi-def transmissions of New York sporting events incited the complaints, the Times indicated. Cablevision produces some of the home games played by the Knicks, the Rangers, the Islanders, the Sabres and the New Jersey Devils. Since the games are not distributed on satellite systems, they’re not covered under the FCC’s program access rules, which the commission is said to be reconsidering.

Verizon and AT&T were in the news earlier this month when news outlets reported the telecoms themselves were the subject of a Department of Justice scrutiny. DOJ was said to be looking at exclusive agreements between the telcos and cell phone makers, such as AT&T’s deal with Apple. No more details have emerged.