Judge Throws Out Comcast's Supplemental Filing

Hardly had the Tennis Channel responded to Comcast's proposed supplemental filing in its program carriage complaint against the company when FCC Administrative Law Judge Richard Sippel dismissed Comcast's filing as "superfluous, not necessary, and just as likely to confuse as inform."

Tennis had argued that the filing was misleading, but Sippel only went as far as to say it was hearsay that would delay a decision.

Comcast had filed the supplement to point out others, including Verizon and Cablevision, who were not carrying Tennis Channel, but the judge said that in the interests of "efficient case management," he wasn't going to introduce that new info since there was already evidence on the record from both sides about the levels of carriage by other MVPDs.

Tennis complained that Comcast was not carrying it on a more widely viewed tier in an effort to favor its own, similarly situated content (Versus).

Judge Sippel concluded that Comcast's hearsay evidence -- press accounts of networks no longer carrying Tennis Channel -- did not change uncontested evidence already on the record and would only waste time and confuse the process.

He also said that to introduce it as evidence now, after the hearing record was closed, would require that it have been in existence but not discovered despited efforts to discover it. "Newly published press reports" did not fill the bill, said Sippel.

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.