FCC Dismisses NFL-Comcast Complaint

Administrative Law Judge Richard Sippel has officially put an end to the program carriage complaint filed by the NFL against Comcast.

That's because the two struck a carriage agreement Tuesday that had both parties talking about fresh starts and mutual benefit after having hammered away at each other during the FCC hearing on the complaint before Judge Sippel last month.

The NFL had complained that Comcast discriminated against its NFL Network by moving it to a sports tier. Comcast had countered that it moved it to the tier to save money in subscriber fees. But since the root issue was the NFL's desire to be carried more broadly rather than on a tier that viewers paid extra for, the new deal essentially rendered the complaint moot.

In a one-page order, the judge dismissed the complaint with prejudice and terminated the proceeding. "With prejudice" means that it was for a good reason and the plaintiff, in this case NFL, could not refile it on the same grounds.

Judge Sippel still has to decide the carriage complaint of Wealth TV against a quartet of cable operators, which was also the subject of a hearing in the past month, and is currently hearing testimony in a third program carriage complaint, that of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network against Comcast.

Comcast and the NFL filed a joint motion to dismiss the complaint on Tuesday.

The two are also unwinding their suit and countersuit over the same issue in the New York State Supreme Court.

John Eggerton

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.