beIN Files Add-on Carriage Complaint Against Comcast
beIN Sports has amended its carriage complaint against Comcast at the FCC over what it says is Comcast's unwillingness to negotiate for carriage.
beIN Sports has been off Comcast/Xfinity since July 31, 2018.
The new complaint, which alleges that "Comcast unlawfully refused to deal with beIN," is in addition to the one filed Dec. 13, which itself was a refiling of its carriage complaint from March 2018. It also asked for a status conference on the complaint with the FCC's Media Bureau.
The Justice Department has signaled it would be keeping an eye on Comcast/NBCU conduct given the sunset of the merger's deal conditions, including on carriage.
Related: beIN Sports Off Comcast in Dispute Over Fees
Back in March, beIN Sports filed its initial complaint, saying the cable operator had violated both the program carriage rules and a nondiscrimination condition in its NBCU purchase agreement, violations it said had occurred before the Jan. 20, 2018, expiration of that deal condition.
Related: AT&T Drops beIN Sports From Channel Lineup
The FCC dismissed that complaint without prejudice, meaning beIN could refile it, which it did in December, and has not supplemented.
BeIN sees the issue this way:
“We have spent many months tirelessly trying to negotiate reasonable terms with Comcast, but Comcast has now, point-blank, refused to negotiate with us,” said beIN Sports deputy managing director for U.S. and Canada Antonio Briceño in December. “Thus, beIN Sports has refiled our carriage complaint against Comcast, providing additional evidence, consistent with FCC guidance, to substantiate Comcast’s discriminatory practices against beIN Sports and in favor of their NBC affiliates. Unfortunately, this is a continued strategy of leveraging large, vertically integrated cable carriers against smaller networks like ours to the detriment of devoted, loyal fans.”
Comcast sees it differently:
“Our practices and decisions with respect to beIN’s programming are justified by clear data and marketplace facts," said Comcast in a statement, also back in December when the complaint was re-filed. "We will once again demonstrate this in our response to the FCC and are confident beIN’s recycled complaint will fare no better a second time around since we are fully compliant with the FCC’s rules. This is just another attempt by beIN to use the regulatory process improperly to try to extract non-market carriage terms from Comcast."
Responding to Tuesday's amended complaint, a Comcast spokesperson said: “Our practices and decisions with respect to beIN’s programming are justified by clear data and marketplace facts. This is just another attempt by beIN to use the regulatory process improperly to try to extract non-market carriage terms from Comcast."
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.