WASHINGTON — Comcast has fired back at Liberman Broadcasting (LBI) and its Estrella TV network over an effort to get the Federal Communications Commission to rethink its decision on their program- carriage complaint against the cable operator.
On Aug. 26, the FCC’s Media Bureau dismissed the complaint, saying that LBI’s status as an owner of TV stations and a broadcast network didn’t make it a video programming vendor with the status to bring such a complaint.
LBI three weeks ago filed a petition with the FCC asking it to reconsider that decision and arguing that it’s illegal to read a broadcast TV station out of the definition of “video programming vendor.” For its part, Comcast said that LBI just wants a second bite at the apple, and that the FCC routinely dismisses such petitions and should not make an exception in this case.
“By finding that the ‘better reading’ of ‘video programming vendor’ excludes a television broadcast station, the bureau unlawfully excluded the specifically defined term ‘video programming.’ But the bureau — indeed the commission — lacks the authority to substitute ‘better reading’ for the plain meaning of the statute,” LBI told the FCC.
Comcast said there are exclusive regulatory regimes for cable-network carriage and TV-station carriage issues, and said LBI’s arguments do not make a case for conflating the two.
“What the evidence has shown and would show is that Comcast made a rational business decision not to pay high carriage fees to an unpopular network without any showing by LBI that any other MVPD paid comparable fees for comparable carriage,” the MSO said.