Tennis Channel appeals Comcast decision to the Supreme Court

Michelle Clancy | 05-12-2013

The Tennis Channel is taking its fight with Comcast to the US Supreme Court, asking it to review a lower court's ruling in May that affirmed Comcast's right to carry the network on a premium sports tier.

Comcast-owned NBCUniversal networks like the Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network are carried as part of the No 1 cable MSO's expanded basic cable packages, and as such gain much more exposure to viewers than those networks that are pushed to premium tiers. Tennis Channel is arguing that Comcast's decision to relegate it to the more expensive packages is a calculated competitive blocking move.

"We are seeking Supreme Court review of the DC Circuit's decision in our case because the lower court strayed from long-standing 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 FCC's congressionally assigned responsibility to regulate programme network competition in the public interest."

Last year, the FCC ordered Comcast to distribute Tennis Channel in an additional 18 million homes. However, the May decision overturned that ruling.

"In doing so, the lower court reversed two-and-a-half years of repeated conclusions by the FCC's Media Bureau, Enforcement Bureau, the Administrative Law Judge – who noted Comcast's 'serious violations of law in this case' – and the Commission itself," the network said. "Ultimately Congress expressly charged the FCC with the responsibility to establish procedures and decide carriage discrimination complaints. The court's decision not only failed to recognise where that responsibility lies, but also rewrote a vital portion of Congress' 1992 Cable Act and federal discrimination law."