FCC Bureau Nixes WealthTV Claim

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The bureau charged with enforcing the Federal Communications Commission’s regulations has concluded that programmer WealthTV failed to make a case that a quartet of cable operators broke those rules.

The FCC Enforcement Bureau last week advised Administrative Law Judge Richard Sippel that he should rule WealthTV had not supplied any direct evidence that Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks had discriminated against WealthTV. Even had they done so, the bureau added, WealthTV could not demonstrate that it would have prevented them from competing with a cable-operator owned channel.

That came in the bureau’s filing of a recommended outcome to Sippel, who is in the process of coming up with his own decision based on a trial on the facts of the case and input from the various parties. The Enforcement Bureau represented the FCC at that hearing.

Agreeing with the cable-operator defendants in the case, the bureau said WealthTV had failed to present any direct evidence that any of the operators’ refusal to carry the channel was based on considerations of affiliation or non-affiliation.

WealthTV claimed the operators discriminated against it by not distributing WealthTV, while carrying a similar channel in which they had a financial interest, In Demand’s now-defunct Mojo HD. The MSOs said the issue was cost of the channel versus its value, and that it was business, not discrimination, that kept WealthTV off their lineups.

Sippel’s recommendation must go to the full commission for a vote.

WealthTV parent Herring Broadcasting was unsurprisingly not happy with the FCC Enforcement Bureau’s conclusion. “While we are disappointed with the Enforcement Bureau’s comments, this does not hinder our determination to get a just outcome,” WealthTV founder Robert Herring said.