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Tennis Channel Asks for New Hearing in Comcast Carriage Dispute

The Tennis Channel is asking a D.C. appellate court for a rehearing of its claim that Comcast unfaierly placed the channel in a less desirable tier than Golf Channel and other channels in which it holds an interest.

In May, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit overturned FCC rulings that Comcast should put Tennis Channel on equal footing with Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network. The agency concluded that Comcast was in violation of program carriage provisions of the Cable Act, but the appellate judges said that the FCC “failed to identify adequate evidence of unlawful discrimination.”

The Tennis Channel, which is an intervenor in the case, as it is the FCC the issued the ruling against Comcast, took issue with the appellate court conclusions. It filed its request for rehearing on Friday.

“By requiring evidence that the defendant suffered an economic loss, the panel departed from this Court’s prior anti-discrimination decisions, ignored congressional intent, and erroneously rejected extensive findings made by the Federal Communications Commission,” Tennis Channel said in its filing.

The protracted dispute is being watched closely in the cable business, as so few carriage disputes of this type have advanced so far in litigation.

Tennis Channel, in its 75-page brief, said that even though Comcast said its refusal to move Tennis Channel to a less expensive and more broadly distributed tier were for economic reasons, “the FCC found that Comcast in fact made no effort to analyze the benefits its distribution business could obtain from Tennis Channel’s proposal for broader carriage.”

Comcast has contended that they made a valid business deal and that Tennis Channel “received exactly the carriage it bargained for and agreed to.”

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