Comcast Wins on Phila. Sports Network


WASHINGTON -Comcast Corp. won a program-access victory when the Federal Communications Commission ruled the MSO is not required to sell its Philadelphia-area sports network to DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp.

In a unanimous ruling that affirmed a previous decision, the FCC held that Comcast SportsNet is not covered by program access rules because the network is not satellite delivered.

"We have consistently made our business decisions based on what's best for our network and for the sports fans in this region," said Comcast SportsNet president and CEO Jack Williams in a prepared statement. "We are grateful that the FCC has again found our business decisions to be pro-competition and pro-consumer."

The direct-broadcast satellite providers complained they were entitled to distribute SportsNet, and alleged that Comcast intended to evade the rules by feeding the network to affiliates via fiber and microwave.

The 1992 Cable Act requires cable operators that own networks to sell those services to their competitors, if the networks are delivered by satellite.

"We are disappointed in the FCC's decision," said EchoStar spokesman Marc Lumpkin. "We believe that Comcast has still engaged in unfair and discriminatory practices and they are offering a disservice to consumers by not allowing satellite TV to have access to that programming."