LOS ANGELES, July 24, 2012 —
“We are gratified that the Federal Communications Commission has today definitively held that Comcast has discriminated against Tennis Channel in the terms and conditions of its carriage on Comcast systems and in favor of its wholly owned networks, Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network. The Commission has given Comcast 45 days to rectify its discrimination and provide Tennis Channel with carriage equivalent to what it affords Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network. The Commission’s decision constitutes a persuasive rejection of each argument Comcast has sought to make over the past several years to justify its discriminatory treatment of Tennis Channel.
“Significantly, the Commission’s decision is the fourth from the agency, following on the heels of the FCC Media Bureau, Enforcement Bureau and Chief Administrative Law Judge, all of which underscore that the conduct Tennis Channel alleged violates the statutory protections in place to protect independent networks against the harmful incentives created by vertical integration in the cable industry.
“We have the greatest respect for Comcast, its leadership and the service it provides to one fourth of the nation’s pay-TV marketplace. Now that the Commission has definitively ruled, we invite Comcast to work with us to ensure Tennis Channel, Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network are equally available to Comcast viewers. While our network will benefit greatly from the broader carriage, ultimately it is the consumer who has won today.
“Maintaining free and open marketplaces is what this entire case has been about from the beginning. Comcast inherently enjoys a government-licensed competitive advantage, allowing it to capture consumers for its owned services. In a quarter of the country, the cable consumer has only two choices: accept what Comcast offers or move. No newspaper, broadcaster, bookstore, filmmaker, music producer, online retailer, video-film service or Internet-television provider enjoys such power. Today’s decision underscores that Comcast’s power comes with a concurrent responsibility to see to it that the freedoms of speech and expression of the diverse programmers that serve these communities are not stifled simply because they compete with networks that the sole cable provider in the marketplace happens to own.
“This decision could not have come at a better time for Comcast customers across this country, as we approach Tennis Channel’s coverage of the US Open beginning August 27.”