Dish Network says that Comcast has refused to negotiate "in good faith" to make its Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia available to its customers, and that it plans to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.
While sources familiar with the issue told Multichannel News that the two sides had had discussions, Dish says the company is inappropriately using its leverage over must-have sports programming to "drive onerous terms for its other programming properties."
Dish had requested access to the regional sports net after the FCC ruled in January that a distributor withholding a terrestrially delivered co-owned programming network from a satellite competitor was not de facto insulated from program access complaints.
"Dish Network believes that Comcast is in direct violation of the FCC's order to close the 'terrestrial loophole' within the program access rules, and plans to file a formal complaint," said Dish in a statement. "It is this type of anti-competitive conduct that reinforces our argument that the merger between Comcast and NBCU poses a grave threat to competition in the multichannel video market."
Dish had no comment on whether or not there had been talks, but a source close to the company said the "discussions" amounted to an exchange of letters, the upshot of which was that Comcast was not making the RSN available.
"We remain willing to discuss carriage of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia with Dish Network," asid Comcast in a statement. "Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia has always been available to Comcast's local competitors, including Verizon and RCN, and our distribution policies have been upheld by both the FCC and the courts. Comcast makes every one of its other networks including nine national networks and 13 regional networks, available to all TV providers, including Dish."