Tennis, Bloomberg Defend FCC Carriage Decision

Tell Appeals Court to Deny Comcast Appeal of Commission's Tennis Channel Decision

Tennis Channel, Bloomberg and the FCC have all filed briefs with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit asking it to deny Comcast's appeal of the commission's program carriage finding against the nation's largest cable operator in the Tennis' carriage complaint.

Tennis filed an intervenor's brief, Bloomberg an amicus brief and the FCC a respondent's brief, but they all carry the same message: the commission was right and the court should deny the petition for review.

The FCC ruled that Comcast had discriminated against Tennis Channel in favor of NBCUniversal-s Golf Channel and Versus, now NBC Sports Network and that it had to give the independent equal treatment, whether that meant carrying them all on a more widely-viewed tier, putting them all on a sports tier, or not carrying any of them.

The FCC's interest in defending its decision is obvious, as is Tennis Channel's. Bloomberg filed its friend of the court brief because it says it, too, has been hurt by Comcast's alleged discriminatory practices. Bloomberg is currently embroiled in its own battle with Comcast over carriage of its Bloomberg TV news channel.

"The FCC correctly found that Comcast deliberately discriminated against Tennis Channel and in favor of Golf Channel and Versus on the basis of affiliation," said Tennis Channel in the filing. It argues the FCC was correct in concluding that discrimination unreasonably restrained competition, did not violate the First Amendment, was filed in time and that the Comcast petition should be rejected.

"The FCC found substantial evidence that Comcast discriminated against the Tennis Channel, resulting in the Commission's first-ever decision under its program carriage rules in favor of an independent programmer," said Greg Babyak, head of government affairs for Bloomberg. "Predictably, Comcast has reacted by challenging the commission's very authority to enforce its public interest mandate. We applaud the commission's actions in attempting to address Comcast's abusive conduct, and in moving to rebuff this broad-gauged attack on the FCC's authority to enforce the law."

“The record amply supports the FCC’s conclusion that Comcast violated section 616 of the Communications Act by intentionally discriminating against Tennis Channel on the basis of affiliation,” the FCC said in its brief.