SBD/Issue 112/Sports Media

Comcast Asks FCC To Dismiss Tennis Channel Carriage Complaint


To nobody's surprise, Comcast today asked the FCC to dismiss Tennis Channel's complaint, saying the network is trying to get the government to amend a legitimate business deal that it entered into in '04. Tennis Channel filed its cable carriage complaint against the cable operator in January. What is a surprise is some of the revelations contained within the filing. Comcast addresses a rumor that Tennis Channel's deal with DirecTV ultimately gave an ownership stake to the satellite provider. "DirecTV, which markets itself as a sports-oriented MVPD -- reportedly obtained an equity interest in Tennis Channel for broader distribution," the filing says. "Tennis Channel should be required to disclose this interest, if it exists (or has ever existed)." Tennis Channel did not respond to a request for comment by deadline. The filing also points out that Dish Network moved Tennis Channel to a less popular tier last fall, when Tennis was in a widely publicized carriage battle with Cablevision. Dish Network's move had not been reported. The filing also puts a number on Comcast's sports tier, which typically is closely held by the cable operator. In the filing, Comcast says its sports tier has more than 2 million subscribers, much higher than the amount previously believed. The MSO redacted the actual number from the filing, but said, "Since Comcast launched Tennis Channel in 2005, the number of subscribers to Comcast's sports tier has increased more than tenfold, from fewer than 200,000 subscribers in 2005."

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