Washington

Comcast Calls Tennis Channel Decision 'Nakedly Content-Based Restriction'

Reiterates to court that FCC is micromanaging speech via "unprecedented" and "distorted" ruling 8/21/2012 10:58:27 AM Eastern

As expected, Comcast has once again urged the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to issue an emergency
stay of the enforcement of the FCC's program carriage complaint decision in the
Tennis Channel case.

The
FCC required Comcast to give Tennis comparable tier placement to Comcast's
co-owned NBC Sports Network and Golf Channel -- it had been carrying Tennis on
a sports tier, while those nets are on more widely viewed basic tiers.

In
a response Tuesday to Tennis Channel's opposition to that stay, Comcast said
the FCC's carriage order "imposes nakedly content-based restrictions on
Comcast's speech by compelling Comcast to distribute Tennis Channel more
broadly because its speech is "similar" to that of Comcast's affiliated
networks."

It
also calls the decision an "unprecedented, distorted" theory of the
program carriage rules. As it said at the outset, Comcast argues that it will
be irreparably harmed by the decision, that it is likely to win on appeal, that
the stay is in the public interest, and that the stay will not harm Tennis
Channel, none of which it says either the FCC or Tennis refuted in their
opposition to the stay.

While
the FCC's General Counsel issued a partial stay of the decision for Comcast
systems that had not been carrying Tennis at all and had limited capacity to do
so, Comcast said that is hardly relief. "The partial stay issued by the
FCC's General Counsel does not alter the need for a judicial stay," it
argued.

If
the court does not grant the full stay, Comcast will have to provide that
equivalent carriage starting early next month. It has already begun informing
its customers about the possible channel moves
.

 

November