Comcast has begun informing its customers that it will move Tennis Channel from a sports tier to more-viewed digital basic tiers "on or about" Sept. 7, but with the caveat related to its court challenge of the move.
The notice does point out that Comcast is challenging the Federal Communications Commission's program carriage decision that prompted the move to the more penetrated tiers, where it carries its owned NBC Sports Network and Golf Channel, As such, Comcast advises its customers to check back periodically in case anything changes.
Comcast is including the notice of the move in its bills, as well as a link to a longer explanation including answers to various questions, according to a Comcast spokesperson. It is required to notify subs of possible channel switches per franchise agreements on such moves.
Comcast has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to stay enforcement until it has heard Comcast's challenge to the program carriage decision, which it calls "unprecedented, unjustified and unconstitutional."
Last week, Tennis Channel and the FCC filed their opposition to that court stay -- the FCC had already denies Comcast's request that the commission stay enforcement pending resolution of the court challenge. They argued that Comcast had thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the decision, but that it had not met the high bar for a stay and its arguments were rooted in a "distorted" view of the record.
Comcast has until Aug. 21 to answer the Tennis Channel/FCC response to the stay request, according to Tennis Channel, after which the court can rule on the stay.
On July 24, the FCC, in a 3-2 party line vote, upheld a bureau and administrative law judge decision that Comcast had discriminated against Tennis Channel by putting it on a sports tier while carrying similarly situated owned networks NBC Sports Net and Golf Channel on digital basic tiers. Its remedy was a fine and that Comcast had to provide equivalent treatment to the respective nets.