beIN SPORTS has filed a carriage complaint against US cable behemoth Comcast, alleging that the pay-TV distributor has offered the sports network a “discriminatory and patently unfair renewal”, and that it is prioritising its own content – a prohibited action under the US regulatory framework.
Comcast however said that beIN SPORTS is not negotiating its carriage renewal in good faith.
“beIN SPORTS has been forced to take legal action and file a carriage complaint,” beIN SPORTS USA said in a media statement. “Comcast has ignored its obligations as a vertically integrated network and favour their own soccer content and other sports-related programming, to the detriment of the beIN services and the audiences we serve.”
Comcast has two wholly-owned networks that carry sports programming - NBC Sports and NBC Universo. beIN SPORTS cited various evidence of Comcast’s alleged discriminatory behaviour:
“Most of [the] programming is not featured in HD, which is obviously a huge disadvantage for our passionate viewers who want the best sports action viewed with the best possible experience,” beIN SPORTS USA said.
beIN SPORTS also noted that is not fully distributed but rather relegated to premium tiers, and that Comcast hasn’t integrated the network into its authenticated TV everywhere strategy, “since Comcast doesn’t have beIN SPORTS CONNECT. This is unacceptable and will not stand.”
It added on this last point that there are roughly 6,000 hours of beIN SPORTS programming that are not viewable to Comcast subscribers.
“beIN SPORTS will continue to negotiate in good faith and intends to make every possible effort to reach a deal with Comcast,” the network said. “beIN SPORTS understands that Comcast customers rely on us for top sports leagues, games, insights and analysis and took legal action to ensure beIN content is made available to the largest possible audience of fans.”
For its part, Comcast noted that it was one of the first distributors to launch both beIN SPORTS channels in 2012, “and continues to be a good partner to the network.”
A spokesperson added: “In fact, we have maintained our market-based distribution of beIN SPORTS, consistent with how it is carried by most other cable and satellite providers. Unfortunately, rather than continue to engage in good-faith commercial negotiations for a renewal of its current agreement, which does not even expire for several months, beIN SPORTS has disappointingly filed this complaint, which is completely without merit. Comcast has not discriminated against beIN SPORTS. Instead, beIN has demanded substantial increases in fees and carriage that make no business sense for our company and our customers.”