Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

WLIG-TV, INC. v. CABLEVISION SYS. CORP.

October 14, 1994

WLIG-TV, INC., Plaintiff, against CABLEVISION SYSTEMS CORPORATION, A-R CABLE SERVICES, INC., V CABLE, INC., RAINBOW PROGRAMMING HOLDINGS, INC. AND RAINBOW ADVERTISING SALES CORPORATION, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN L. CADEN

 CADEN, United States Magistrate Judge.

 Plaintiff WLIG-TV, Inc. ("WLIG") brings this antitrust action pursuant to the Clayton and Sherman Acts, alleging anticompetitive and monopolistic behavior on the part of Cablevision Systems Corporation and its named subsidiaries (collectively "Cablevision" or "defendants"). On February 18, 1994, this case was referred to the undersigned by random selection. The parties are presently before the court on: (1) defendants' motion to compel the deposition of ten attorneys who provided WLIG with legal advice, for production of related documents and permission to inquire of WLIG principals as to certain communications (e.g., financial arrangements with attorneys) to all of which WLIG has objected on the ground of attorney-client privilege; (2) WLIG's request to modify the Confidentiality Stipulation and Protective Order (the "Confidentiality Order") entered into between the parties on December 15, 1993, and to redesignate two documents under the terms of the Confidentiality Order.

 For reasons more fully explained herein, Cablevision's motion to compel is granted, WLIG's request to modify the Confidentiality Order is partially granted and WLIG is permitted to redesignate two documents produced by Cablevision.

 FACTS

 The allegations in the complaint describe a course of conduct by Cablevision aimed at precluding carriage of WLIG in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The purported monopolistic course of conduct includes acquiring other cable systems in Nassau and Suffolk Counties and forms the basis for WLIG's antitrust claims. In short, WLIG alleges that Cablevision refused to carry WLIG because WLIG and cable programming (in which Cablevision has an interest) directly compete with each other for advertising in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

 WLIG filed a complaint against Cablevision on July 8, 1993. However, the bulk of the conduct alleged in the complaint occurred prior to July 8, 1989. In order to toll the four-year statute of limitations provided for in the Clayton Act, WLIG has invoked the equitable doctrines of fraudulent inducement and fraudulent concealment. (Complaint PP 116-119.) The successful application of these doctrines depends on what and when WLIG knew of any possible antitrust action it could have brought, and if WLIG knew of such a claim, whether it failed to proceed because it relied on Cablevision's representations.

 Judge Spatt, by revised order dated November 16, 1993, limited discovery on the issues of statute of limitations, fraudulent concealment, fraudulent inducement and a continuing violation theory. The case has subsequently been reassigned to Judge Seybert. It is in the context of this limited discovery that Cablevision seeks depositions and the production of documents from WLIG that would ordinarily be shielded by the attorney-client privilege.

 WLIG, a New York corporation, operates a full-power commercial television station in Nassau and Suffolk Counties and transmits its signal by broadcast (electromagnetic signals emanating from a central antenna). (Complaint P 7.) Cablevision, a New York corporation, operates cable television systems in the United States and also owns substantial interests in cable television programming services such as, for example, Turner Broadcasting. (Complaint PP 12, 15.)

 In 1985, when it first became operational, WLIG requested carriage on each of the nine cable systems -- including Cablevision -- then servicing Nassau and Suffolk Counties. (Complaint P 36.) At that time, and until July 1992 (when it provided only limited carriage), Cablevision refused to carry WLIG. (Complaint PP 39, 110.) Since 1986, Cablevision has acquired 7 of the 8 other cable systems in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. (Complaint P 1(b).) At the time of their acquisition, all seven cable systems carried WLIG. After acquisition by Cablevision, WLIG alleges that Cablevision either dropped WLIG from carriage or moved WLIG to a less favorable channel position. (Complaint PP 49-59, 69-85.) WLIG contends that by denying access to its television system, Cablevision precluded WLIG from effectively competing with Cablevision for television advertising in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

 Effective June 1993, Cablevision was compelled by law to carry WLIG pursuant to the Congressional enactment of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 (the "Act"). Specifically, the Act contains "must-carry" provisions requiring that local broadcast station signals be carried by cable television systems. WLIG contends that even after June 1993, Cablevision is not in compliance with the Act and the Federal Communications Commission (the "F.C.C.") regulations promulgated thereunder, because it is not carrying WLIG as part of the basic service package in two prime areas in Long Island, Woodbury and Huntington. (Complaint PP 108-110.)

 The "must-carry" provisions of the Act have generated litigation both in federal court (the District of Columbia) and before the F.C.C. The Supreme Court recently considered a First Amendment challenge to the "must-carry" provisions in Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission, No. 93-44, slip op. (1994) *fn1" In Turner, the Supreme Court described the advantages posed by cable stations over broadcast stations as twofold: (1) superior reception and (2) increased channel carrying capacity. Id., slip op. at 3. Signals transmitted by broadcast travel are subject to interference by obstacles such as hilly terrain. Cable transmission, on the other hand, is facilitated by point-to-point connections between a transmitting facility and televisions of individual subscribers via cable or optical fibers located both above and underground. Id., slip op. at 2. Cable technology thereby eradicates reception interference common to broadcast transmissions and enables cable systems to provide a wide selection of channels to viewers. Id. Accordingly, carriage of its signal on a cable system is often critical to the success or failure of a broadcast television station. See generally id.

 In part, WLIG seeks to modify the Confidentiality Order entered on December 15, 1993, by Magistrate Judge Orenstein (on consent of the parties), so that currently protected documents and testimony can be available for use in connection with Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission, 819 F. Supp. 32 (D.D.C. 1993), 114 S. Ct. 2445, 129 L. Ed. 2d 497, 62 U.S.L.W. 4647 (1994) (on remand). WLIG also seeks to use these documents and testimony in conjunction with: (1) a petition filed with the F.C.C. by Cablevision requesting a waiver of the "must-carry" regulations wherein, inter alia, Cablevision seeks permission to carry WLIG only in Long Island rather than in the New York ADI; and (2) an administrative complaint which WLIG's counsel advises the undersigned it may file with the F.C.C. against Cablevision.

 I. Discovery

 A. Attorney-Client Privilege

 The attorney-client privilege protects communications between a client and an attorney but does not shield facts underlying the communications. Upjohn Co. v. United States, 449 U.S. 383, 395, 66 L. Ed. 2d 584, 101 S. Ct. 677 (1981). The purpose of this "oldest of privileges" is "to encourage full and frank communications between attorneys and their clients and thereby promote broader public interest in the observance of law and administration of justice." Id. at 389.

 The Second Circuit recently admonished that "an uncertain privilege -- or one which purports to be certain, but results in widely varying applications by the courts -- is little better than no privilege." In re Von Bulow, 828 F.2d 94, 100 (2nd Cir. 1987). However, the Second Circuit has also advised that the attorney-client privilege "cannot at once be used as a shield and a sword." United States v. Bilzerian, 926 F.2d 1285, 1292 (2d Cir. 1991), cert denied, 502 U.S. 813, 112 S. Ct. 63, 116 L. Ed. 2d 39 (1991). Under certain circumstances the attorney-client privilege is deemed waived:

 
A defendant may not use the privilege to prejudice his opponent's case or to disclose some selected communications for self-serving purposes. . . . Thus, the privilege may implicitly be waived when defendant asserts a claim that in fairness requires examination of protected communications. Id. at 1292.

 In Bilzerian, the Second Circuit found that the defendant had impliedly waived the attorney-client privilege because his conversations with counsel on the legality of his securities schemes were "directly relevant in determining the extent of his knowledge and, as a result, his intent" and put "the basis of his understanding of what the law required in issue." Id. Accordingly, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.