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22 Mar

Comcast® Faces a Program Carriage Complaint in Violation of FCC Rules

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Program Carriage Complaint

Comcast® is now facing a complaint lodged by beIN Sports, who states that the cable provider is in direct violation of Federal Communications Commission’s program carriage rules as well as a non-discrimination condition mentioned in Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal. The sports network stated that the violation of the condition occurred prior to January 20, 2018, which was also its expiration date.

The program carriage complaint filed with FCC points to the fact that Comcast® has put the networks under one sports tier providing low penetration as opposed to Comcast’s own sports programming. The global network owning sports channels now requires the court to urge Comcast® to provide carriage based on “equitable terms,” that won’t “unreasonably restrict beIN’s ability to compete fairly.”

In fact, beIN Sports says in the complaint that Comcast® or NBC Universal have discriminated against the company in preference of similar sports programming to NBC Universo and NBC Sports. In the complaint, it is also stated that some of the other channel distributors give the networks better penetration and that Comcast® is not treating beIN’s networks in the same manner.

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The sports network said that Comcast® is wrong in stating that “similarly situated,” language is applicable to the networks instead of programming. “The Commission has already found that a sports network focused on football (the NFL Network) is similarly situated to Comcast-affiliated networks focused on golf, fishing and hunting programming,” beIN mentioned in the FCC filing. “Here, the similarity among the programming of the four networks in question is much more pronounced.”

In a late response to the complaint, the cable provider said, “Comcast® was one of the first distributors to launch both beIN Sports channels in 2012 and continues to be a good partner to the network. In fact, we have maintained our market-based distribution of beIN Sports, consistent with how it is carried by most other cable and satellite providers.”

“Unfortunately, rather than continue to engage in good-faith commercial negotiations for a renewal of its current agreement, which does not even expire for several months, beIN Sports has disappointingly filed this complaint, which is completely without merit,” they added. “Comcast® has not discriminated against beIN Sports. Instead, beIN has demanded substantial increases in fees and carriage that make no business sense for our company and our customers.”

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