The opinion of the court was delivered by: Francis, United States Magistrate Judge.
The plaintiff, Kingvision Pay-Per-View, Ltd. ("Kingvision"),
brings this action
against Jasper Grocery and Jose A. Cordero, the store's owner,
pursuant to the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 (the
"Cable Act"), 47 U.S.C. § 151 et seq., for the unauthorized
interception and commercial exhibition of closed-circuit
television programming. Kingvision seeks statutory damages under
both Section 553 and Section 605 of the Cable Act, as well as an
award of reasonable costs, including attorneys' fees, pursuant to
47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(B)(iii). The parties stipulated to refer this
case to me for all purposes including final disposition under
28 U.S.C. § 636(c). They also agreed to submit the case for trial on
the papers. Accordingly, this decision constitutes my findings of
fact and conclusions of law consistent with Rule 52(a) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
On March 7, 1998, Julio Cesar Chavez and Miguel Angel Gonzalez
were contestants in a professional prizefight in Mexico City,
Mexico (the "fight"). (Complaint, attached as Exh. A to
Plaintiff's Submission of Record for Trial ("Rec."), ¶ 7).
Kingvision owned the exclusive right to exhibit the
closed-circuit telecast of this fight as well as the undercard
bouts. (Rec., Exh. A ¶¶ 7, 15). It sublicensed these rights to a
variety of business locations throughout New York, such as
theaters, bars, clubs, and restaurants. (Rec., Exh. A ¶¶ 7, 10).
In order to ensure limited access to the programming, the
plaintiff encoded its transmission of the event. (Rec., Exh. A ¶
11). The telecast was transmitted by radio signal to a satellite
and from there to receivers operated by cable systems. The cable
operators decoded the signal, applied their own encryption, and
transmitted the telecast by coaxial cable to their customers.
Each customer with the appropriate decoder could then watch the
fight upon payment of a fee. See generally International
Cablevision, Inc. v. Sykes, 997 F.2d 998, 1000 (2d Cir. 1993)
("Cablevision I") (describing technology of cable television).
According to the plaintiff, Mr. Cordero was able to exhibit the
fight at Jasper Grocery, located at 694 East 141th Street in the
Bronx, New York, without paying the fee. (Rec., Exh. A ¶¶ 12,
14). Patrick McLoughlin, an investigator hired by Kingvision,
observed approximately 30 customers who were gathered around a
television set inside the grocery store at the time the undercard
fight was in progress. (Affidavit of Patrick McLoughlin
("McLoughlin Aff."), attached as Exh. C to Rec.). Kingvision
filed this action when it was informed of the unlawful conduct.
Section 605 of the Cable Act states in pertinent part: "[n]o
person not being authorized by the sender shall intercept any
radio communication and divulge or publish the existence,
contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of such
intercepted communication to any person." 47 U.S.C. § 605(a).
This section applies to transmission of a television signal by
radio, whether or not the signal is subsequently carried by
coaxial cable. See International Cablevision, Inc. v. Sykes,
75 F.3d 123, 132 (2d Cir. 1996) ("Cablevision II").
In this case, the defendants' conduct included unauthorized
interception of radio signals. While Kingvision does not provide
much detail on the technology used in transmitting the telecast,
it does allege that reception would not have been possible
without "electronic decoding equipment and satellite coordinates
necessary to receive the signal." (Rec., Exh. A ¶ 13). The
reference to satellites indicates that the broadcast originated
with a radio transmission, so that the defendants' unauthorized
use indeed violated Section 605 of the Cable Act.*fn1
While Section 605 deals with interception of radio signals,
Section 553 of the Cable Act is concerned with unlawful
interception of cable communications. It states in part that
"[n]o person shall intercept or receive or assist in intercepting
or receiving any communications service offered over a cable
system, unless specifically authorized to do so by a cable
operator or as may otherwise be specifically authorized by law."
47 U.S.C. § 553(a)(1).
Here, the broadcast was received as a radio transmission by the
licensed cable operator and then retransmitted through the cable
system to subscribers. Accordingly, the defendants' interception
of the fight also ran afoul of Section 503.
The defendants contend that they did not engage in illegal
conduct. Instead, they assert that Denise Scott, a residential
cable subscriber who lives next door to the grocery, was
responsible for illegally exhibiting the fight. (Plaintiff's
Interrogatories to Defendants ("Pl. Interrogatories"), attached
as Exh. D to Rec., ¶ 23; Answer to Interrogatories, attached as
Exh. E to Rec., ¶ 23). According to the defendants, Ms. Scott
paid for the fight herself and then brought a television set out
of her apartment and put it on the top of the ice machine located
in front of the grocery. (Pl. Interrogatories ¶ 23; Answer to
Interrogatories ¶ 23; Defendants Arguments ("Def.Arguments") at
1-2). Yet, they do not present any evidence to substantiate this
claim. While the defendants argue that the investigator observed