Skip to comments.Tennis Appeals Comcast Decision to Supremes - Says D.C. circuit ignores congressional intent
Posted on 12/04/2013 8:02:55 AM PST by Dave346
Washington - The Tennis Channel has taken its carriage complaint against Comcast to the Supreme Court.
We are seeking Supreme Court review of the D.C. Circuits decision in our case because the lower court strayed from longstanding federal discrimination law to invent an arbitrary and unfair standard for deciding cable carriage complaints," Tennis Channel said in a statement. "The ruling ignores Congress intent to ensure a diverse, competitive media marketplace and eviscerates the FCCs congressionally assigned responsibility to regulate program network competition in the public interest.
"In doing so, the lower court reversed two-and-a-half years of repeated conclusions by the FCCs Media Bureau, Enforcement Bureau, the Administrative Law Judge who noted Comcasts serious violations of law in this case and the Commission itself. Ultimately Congress expressly charged the FCC with the responsibility to establish procedures and decide carriage discrimination complaints. The courts decision not only failed to recognize where that responsibility lies, but also rewrote a vital portion of Congress 1992 Cable Act and federal discrimination law.
Last May, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has unanimously ruled that Comcast did not violate the FCC's program carriage rules.
In September, the court declined Tennis Channel's request for en banc (full court) review of that decision, triggering the decision to seek Supreme Court Review.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has spoken emphatically and unanimously that Comcast did not discriminate against the Tennis Channel. We are confident that this ruling will continue to be upheld, Comcast said in a statement.
I thought the FCC could only regulate television broadcast over the airwaves and not cable television.
Well, the ball is in their court.
This case does not involve obscenity. It’s a discrimination lawsuit - alleging that Comcast gave similar channels it owns (NBCSN and Golf Channel) wider distribution compared to Tennis Channel.
What suspect class would such a "discrimination" action be based on. This involves neither race, sex, religion, gender oreintation, or any other prohibited discrimination. "Sports preference" is not a class entitled to protection under civil rights anti-discrimination laws. It seems to be based on an FCC enforcement action rather than civil rights laws, so again I ask, does the FCC have authority to regulate cable as well as broadcast television?
Has to do with the 1992 Cable Act requiring fair treatment of “similarly situated” networks - or something to that effect.
Comcast has Tennis Channel on Sports Tier while Golf and NBCSN are on the basic cable package (digital starter).
FCC is charged with handling cable carriage complaints and fined Comcast the maximum penalty of $375,000 and required Comcast to provide Tennis Channel with same distribution as NBCSN and Golf Channel.
DC Circuit overturned it. This is the first cable carriage complaint to be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court as I understand.
The discrimination issue is based on ownership of some cable networks by certain cable providers. Comcast owns NBCSN and Golf but not Tennis Channel.
Thank you, I assumed as much. I wonder how "similarly situated" networks is defined. If one sports network has only a fraction of the audience as another I would hardly call them similarly situated. In other words, economic concerns should be a legitimate basis for network placement and "discrimination".
Is this the case to outlaw all the female grunting???
The Tennis Channel’s position is that their network is cheaper than NBCSN and Golf but would deliver a similar number of viewers.
Therefore cable providers could make more money from giving Tennis Channel broad distribution than NBCSN and Golf.
But Tennis Channel locked themselves into 16 year agreements with major cable providers like Comcast and Time Warner.
Then after 5 years or so on Comcast they sued them because they refused to upgrade the channel after the channel added more content.
You could make the case Tennis Channel should’ve held out for an agreement that was shorter or had better terms for them.
Congress is the real problem. They decided long ago that in order to push unwanted political/social channels into the brains of Americans then they would create controlling laws that enforce such an agenda.