The Federal Communications Commission ordered Comcast to offer tennis viewing to more subscribers. The FCC has charged the cable company with discrimination and levied a $375,000 fine after the Tennis Channel proved its point in court.
The Tennis Channel held that their telecasts had been relegated to a low tier of service that did not match the better coverage of other sports channels offered to subscribers under the expanded basic package that includes ESPN.
Namely, two channels owned by Comcast itself, the Golf Channel and Versus sports channel were available less expensively. The Sports Tier that carried Tennis cost subscribers at least $5 a month more.
Comcast was blamed for offering greater distribution in relation to the size of the interest it has in the network. Federal rules say cable operators who own channels can’t discriminate against those they do not own.
Comcast will appeal the decision saying it "firmly believes that the exercise [its contractual right] to minimize costs to consumers is not discrimination." Judge Richard L. Sipple disagreed:
"Although Comcast Cable claims that it denied Tennis Channel broader carriage based upon a cost-benefit analysis, the record shows that Comcast did not analyze the benefits that would accrue from giving Tennis Channel greater penetration."
CEO Ken Solomon, of the Tennis Channel thinks the decision will result in them adding "between 20 million and 23 million households." One disagreement won while another is pending. The company is still quibbling with Cablevision.
Bear in mind that this is not the first time this week Comcast has been given a fine. The week started off with Federal Trade Commission slapping them with a 500,000 USD fine in regards to the anti-trust charges brought against the company. The week is now ending with Brian L. Roberts, CEO of Comcast Corporation having to explain the 875,000 USD of fines to company shareholders. Not a good holiday season for Comcast management, that's for sure.
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