beIN Sports Refiles Carriage Complaint Against Comcast at FCC

Says it has more 'robust' evidence of discrimination
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BeIN Sports has refiled its carriage complaint against Comcast with the FCC after failing to negotiate terms to their mutual satisfaction.

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The programmer blamed Comcast and said its new filing provides "more robust" evidence of the discrimination it alleged the first time around.

Back in March, beIN Sports filed its initial complaint, saying the cable operator had violated both the program carriage rules and a nondiscrimination condition in its NBCU purchase agreement, violations it said had occurred before the Jan. 20, 2018, expiration of that deal condition.

Related: beIN Sports Off Comcast in Dispute Over Fees

The FCC dismissed that complaint without prejudice, meaning beIN could refile it, and it now has. 

“We have spent many months tirelessly trying to negotiate reasonable terms with Comcast, but Comcast has now, point-blank, refused to negotiate with us,” said beIN Sports deputy managing director for U.S. and Canada Antonio Briceño. “Thus, beIN Sports has refiled our carriage complaint against Comcast, providing additional evidence, consistent with FCC guidance, to substantiate Comcast’s discriminatory practices against beIN Sports and in favor of their NBC affiliates. Unfortunately, this is a continued strategy of leveraging large, vertically integrated cable carriers against smaller networks like ours to the detriment of devoted, loyal fans.”

beIN's complaint is that Comcast put beIN networks in a sports tier with lower penetration than Comcast's owned sports programming and that there is no reasonable explanation for that placement other than Comcast wanting to favor its own programming in violation of FCC rules and its NBCU merger condition.

“Our practices and decisions with respect to beIN’s programming are justified by clear data and marketplace facts," said Comcast in a statement. "We will once again demonstrate this in our response to the FCC and are confident beIN’s recycled complaint will fare no better a second time around since we are fully compliant with the FCC’s rules. This is just another attempt by beIN to use the regulatory process improperly to try to extract non-market carriage terms from Comcast."

The re-filing comes as the Justice Department has signaled it will keep an eye on Comcast/NBCU with the sunset of the deal's program access conditions.

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