A Federal Communications Commission administrative law judge has declined to extend the deadline for the agency's Enforcement Bureau to file its recommendation in the program carriage complaint of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network against Comcast.
That complaint, which had alleged discrimination and retaliation against MASN by Comcast and favoritism to its own similarly situated networks, was adjudicated in May before Judge Richard Sippel, who is currently deciding the case. The Enforcement Bureau represented the FCC in the hearing.
That recommendation is due July 31, but MASN petitioned the court to move the deadline, saying the two sides were close to a negotiated settlement --scheduled for Aug. 4-- and the recommendation might jeopardize that.
Comcast opposed the request and said that the two sides did not yet have an agreement in principle that would be threatened by revealing the comments, though it did say the two sides were still negotiating
In denying MASN's request for a delay of the Enforcement Bureau's comments on the merits of the case, Judge Sippel pointed out that the bureau had not requested the delay. He said MASN had not demonstrated that the delay would facilitate a settlement. Comcast even argued that the comments might help goose the process by "sharpening" the parties respective positions.
But he also said he hoped that MASN's view of the negoations was closer to reality. "MASN and Comcast are urted to settle and to file a joint motion to dismiss this proceeding as soon as practicable."
The MASN complaint is one of three program access complaints adjudicated by Sippel. The judge has yet to render a verdict on any of them. A complaint filed by the NFL Network against Comcast was resolved. Another complaint, filed by Wealth TV against a quartet of top cable operators has not been resolved, but the Enforcement Bureau has said it doesn't think Wealth TV made its case.