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DISH Threatens FCC Complaint Against Comcast Over Philly RSN

DISH Network said Friday that Comcast has refused to negotiate "in good faith" to make its Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia available to DISH customers, and says it plans to complain to the FCC about it.

While sources familiar with the issue told B&C the two sides had had discussions, DISH says the company is inappropriately using its leverage over must-have sports programming to "drive onerous terms for its other programming properties."

DISH had requested access to the terrestrially delivered regional sports net after the FCC ruled in January that a distributor withholding a terrestrially delivered co-owned programming network from a satellite competitor was not de facto insulated from program access complaints.

"DISH Network believes that Comcast is in direct violation of the FCC's order to close the 'terrestrial loophole' within the program access rules, and plans to file a formal complaint," said DISH in a statement. "It is this type of anti-competitive conduct that reinforces our argument that the merger between Comcast and NBCU poses a grave threat to competition in the multichannel video market."

DISH had no comment on whether or not there had been talks, but a source close to the company said the "discussions" amounted to an exchange of letters, the upshot of which was that Comcast was not making the RSN available. 

"We remain willing to
discuss carriage of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia with Dish Network," said Comcast in a statement. "Comcast
SportsNet Philadelphia has always been available to Comcast's local
competitors, including Verizon and RCN, and our distribution policies
have been upheld by both the FCC and the courts. Comcast makes every one
of its other networks including nine national
networks and 13 regional networks, available to all TV providers,
including Dish."

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.