It's 10 days and counting for the darkness enveloping Comcast SportsNet California on Dish Network.
The disconnect continues even through the parties, which met with an FCC Media Bureau on Dec. 1, are negotiating, according to Dish.
Dish dropped CSN California, the cable home to the NBA Sacramento Kings and NHL San Jose Sharks, at midnight on Nov. 24, 12 hours after the DBS operator lost an FCC arbitration ruling it had initiated under a condition imposed upon Comcast's (and Time Warner Cable's) 2006 acquisition of Adelphia Communications. That condition, evidently without initial binding effect, enabled Dish to ask for a commission-mandated arbitrator to settle any pricing impasse. Now the No. 2 DBS distributor is making a one-time appeal of the ruling -- which it maintains was rendered based on significant legal and factual errors -- as is its right.
Later on Nov. 24, Comcast emailed a letter to FCC Media Bureau chief William Lake, apprising him of Dish's actions, which it believes represents a breach of the arbitration order and contract. In the missive, Comcast also expressed concern that Dish might enact similar actions with three other pending arbitration orders for CSN BayArea, CSN Chicago and CSN Mid-Atlantic, all of which are also out of contract with the distributor. It also requested a meeting with the FCC Media Bureau, which occurred on Wednesday.
Dish issued the following statement late Friday afternoon: "On Dec. 1, Dish Network met with Comcast and the FCC concerning the fee dispute for carriage of Comcast SportsNet California. In that meeting, we proposed a resolution that would return the channel to the air and we are now in discussions with Comcast about that resolution. Dish Network continues to work toward a fair agreement with Comcast."
A Comcast spokesman said: "At Dish's request CSN California agreed to arbitration as per the FCC. An independent arbitrator awarded Dish a fair deal. Yet, despite obtaining a fair deal by the independent arbitrator, Dish still took the network away from its consumers in Northern California. Dish needs to honor its commitment to arbitration and, more importantly, while this dispute is ongoing, honor its commitment to Sharks and Kings fans by continuing to carry CSN during any appeal of the arbitrator's decision."
In a report in the Marysville (Calif.) Appeal Democrat, Dish said it has met Comcast's price-per-subscriber demand for the sports channel, but will not charge the fee to viewers unwilling to order it.
The DBS provider also had RSN issues during October with Fox Sports Net, whose channels were off Dish's air for nearly the entire month. They were restored as part of retransmission-consent deal reached with Fox on Oct. 29.
Elsewhere, its contract with MSG Network and MSG Plus expired on Oct. 1 and those channels have remained dark since then.
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