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FCC Comes To MASN's Relief In Comcast Fight

In a decision that could return programming to sports fans in Harrisburg, Penn. and Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va. markets, the Federal Communications Commission Friday ordered that a complaint filed by regional sports network MASN against Comcast go before an Administrative Law Judge.

Through a release, MASN said the FCC has found sufficient evidence of discrimination by the nation’s largest cable company to order a hearing by an ALJ to recommend a remedy. MASN says Comcast has not carried the RSN in those markets in over a year.

The complaint filed by MASN, which carries Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals Major League Baseball games and other sports fare, contended that Comcast Cable was discriminating against MASN by refusing carriage of the rival network, while simultaneously carrying its wholly-owned and affiliated sports networks.  

In Harrisburg,, Comcast Cable carries its own network, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, while in Roanoke/Lynchburg, it televises Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic.  Prior to Comcast Cable’s refusal to carry MASN, the network’s Baltimore Orioles baseball games had been available in both areas for decades.

“The FCC is protecting consumers and competition by enforcing the program carriage rules that provide an essential check against the monopolistic incentives of vertically-integrated cable distributors,” said MASN spokesman Todd Webster in a statement. “We applaud this decision and look forward to a swift resolution that will return Major League Baseball and local sports programming to the airwaves throughout MASN’s television territory.”

Comcast video ustomers in the aforementioned markets were shut out from MASN's coverage of O's and Nats games during the 2008 MLB season.