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The Word Network Levels FCC, FTC Complaints at Comcast

The Word Network has filed complaints against Comcast at the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission over the MSO's reduction of its carriage, a representative for the network confirmed. 

The Word, a religious network targeted to African Americans, is asking the agencies to  investigate "the unjust removal of The Word Network," as well as diversity and retrans-related issues.

The network said that after it contacted Comcast about the carriage reduction and asked about the reason, it was told "because we are Comcast, and we can."

Comcast executives speaking on background said that was not accurate.

The MSO attributed the reduction to an increase in distribution for The Impact Network, a minority-owned network also aimed at African-American viewers.

“We continuously evaluate the content we deliver to our customers," Comcast said in a statement. "As part of this ongoing process, we determined that The Impact Network provides a broader array of programming than The Word Network, which led us to our decision to increase Impact’s distribution. We are also continuing to carry The Word Network to millions of our customers in the Midwest and South based on its appeal in those regions.”

The Comcast execs speaking on background, who said they had not yet seen the complaints, said that (1) Impact was minority-owned, while The Word is not; (2) The Word's content is largely ministries, with many ministers also appearing on other networks; and (3) Impact has family programming, financial planning content and entertainment programming, and that, looking at both, the MSO made a business decision to reduce The Word's carriage and increase Impact's distribution.

Meanwhile, The Word Network has replaced its homepage with an anti-Comcast campaign flyer headlined "They Don't Want Us, So We Don't Want Them" and urging viewers to contact executives at the MSO.

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.