Tennis Channel, Bloomberg and the FCC have all filed briefs
with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit asking it to deny Comcast's
appeal of the FCC's program carriage finding against the nation's largest cable
operator in the Tennis Channel carriage complaint.
Tennis filed an intervener's brief, Bloomberg an amicus
brief and the FCC a respondent's brief, but
they all have the same message. The FCC was right and the court should deny the
petition for review.
The FCC ruled that Comcast had discriminated against Tennis
Channel in favor of its co-owned Golf Channel and Versus (now NBC Sports Net)
and that it had to give Tennis equal treatment, whether that meant carrying
them all on a more widely-viewed tier, putting them all on a sports tier, or
not carrying any of them.
The FCC's interest in defending its decision is obvious, as
is Tennis Channel's. Bloomberg filed its friend of the court (amicus) brief, in
this case a friend of Tennis, because it says it, too, has been hurt by
Comcast's alleged discriminatory practices. Bloomberg is currently embroiled in
its own battle with Comcast over carriage of its Bloomberg TV news channel.
"The FCC correctly found that Comcast deliberately
discriminated against Tennis Channel and in favor of Golf Channel and Versus on
the basis of affiliation," said Tennis Channel in the filing. It argues
the FCC was correct in concluding that discrimination unreasonably restrained
competition, did not violate the First Amendment, was filed in time and that
the Comcast petition should be rejected.
"The FCC found substantial evidence that Comcast
discriminated against the Tennis Channel, resulting in the Commission's
first-ever decision under its program carriage rules in favor of an independent
programmer," said Greg Babyak, head of government affairs for Bloomberg.
"Predictably, Comcast has reacted by challenging the commission's very
authority to enforce its public interest mandate. We applaud the commission's
actions in attempting to address Comcast's abusive conduct, and in moving to
rebuff this broad-gauged attack on the FCC's authority to enforce the law."
"The record amply supports the FCC's conclusion that Comcast violated section 616 of the Communications Act by intentionally discriminating against Tennis Channel on the basis of affiliation," the FCC said in its brief.
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