The ongoing spat between Comcast® Corp. and Word Network has gained the attention of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently. In a complaint that was written to FCC by the Word Network, they said that Comcast Corporation® has hurt the African American ministry channel, as they dropped the channel from about seven million households in the United States. In addition, the complaint also says that Comcast® has tried to get the digital rights of Word Network in negotiations that took place in 2016.
The complaint claims that the action of Comcast® against the Word Network has clearly violated the agreement which was signed by Comcast® with FCC in 2011, as per which, they acquired the NBCUniversal entertainment. The complaint’s legal base is that Comcast® has discriminated the Word Network by treating them less favorably than the NBCUniversal channels that are owned by Comcast Corporation®. Word Network is considered as an independent programmer and Comcast® does not own it.
In the month of January, Comcast® had cut the distribution of Word Network channels to just five million US homes from twelve million. One of the cities that lost access to the Word Network was Philadelphia and Comcast® replaced the Word Network with another black ministry channel, the Impact Network.
Comcast® rejected all the discrimination claims of Word Network and denied that they have sought the digital rights of the network improperly. “The claims by the Word Network are baseless, and we hope the FCC will agree,” Comcast® spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said in a statement. “Comcast is broadly distributing Impact, an independent, African American-owned service, in which Comcast® has no ownership. Comcast still carries the Word Network, which is not African American-owned, to millions of our customers. The distribution decisions for these two networks are based on our reasonable business judgment.”
Many protestors traveled from Michigan by bus over the winter to picket the headquarters of Comcast Corporation® that is located in Philadelphia for their decision on the Word Network that is located in Southfield, Michigan. Some reports say that many of these picketers were paid by churches to take part in the protest.