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WealthTV Asks FCC for New Hearing on Carriage Complaint

WealthTV is once again asking the FCC to reopen its program carriage complaint against Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House. The company says it has filed a petition with the FCC to reconsider dismissal of its complaint, citing the move of former FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker to Comcast and revelations in the recent Enforcement Bureau recommendation that the cable operator had discriminated against Tennis Channel.

WealthTV asked the FCC to reopen the case last March, but says new information buttresses its case.

According to a copy of the filing obtained by B&C/Multi, WealthTV argues that "legitimate questions [remain] as to the extent to which Commissioner Meredith Baker fully and completely recused herself from consideration of the WealthTV complaint proceedings."

WealthTV requests that the Commission review the conduct of the former Commission employees [including Baker staffers] determine if their actions run afoul of the letter or spirit of the federal ethics rules."

Baker has said she followed all the ethics rules to the letter.

WealthTV also says that given the fact that the FCC is revamping its program carriage rules, it is clear that WealthTV's case was ruled on "without proper standards or consistency in decision-making."

As examples of that inconsistency, it cites the FCC's lack of guidance on who had the burden of proof, as well as what it says is the Enforcement Bureau's admission in its recommended Tennis Channel decision that "there are no standards or inconsistent standards applied in making the determination of what programming is ‘substantially similar.'"

WealthTV wants the FCC to reconsider its commissioner-level decision to dismiss the complaint, including holding a new hearing, if necessary.

WealthTV argued that Comcast and the other operators discriminated against its channel in favor of a similar channel in which they had a financial interest. The operators said the reason they did not carry WealthTV was instead that the two sides failed to come to terms in a marketplace negotiation.

The FCC ultimately held that WealthTV had not made its case. That came after the Enforcement Bureau concluded that was the case in a recommendation to Administrative Law Judge Richard Sippel, who then passed along that recommendation to the commission in the form of his ruling against WealthTV.