FCC dismisses beIN’s Comcast carriage complaint | Major Businesses | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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In the latest part of the ongoing legal battle between the content provider and the cableco, US regulator the FCC has dismissed in part and denied in part the December 2018 carriage complaint by beIN Sports regarding unfair treatment by Comcast.
beIN Sport 24 Sugust 2018
beIN SPORTS is the exclusive broadcast partner in the US and Canada for the global football leagues LaLiga, Ligue 1 and Süper Lig, as well as premium competitions such as Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana, Copa del Rey and CAF Africa Cup of Nations. It alleges that through what it calls ‘discriminatory’ practices Comcast is denying sports fans this content.

In March 2018, beIN SPORTS filed its first carriage complaint against the US cable behemoth, alleging that the pay-TV distributor had 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. Namely, in the suite the sports programming firm alleged that the multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) discriminated “on the basis of affiliation or non-affiliation” in the selection, terms, and conditions of carriage of two beIN Sports networks, beIN en Español and beIN, in violation of section 616 of the US Communications Act of 1934.

Comcast’s retort was that in March 2018 beIN SPORTS was not negotiating its carriage renewal in good faith. beIN SPORTS was removed from Comcast/Xfinity platforms such as Comcast-affiliated VPV Universo on 31 July 2018, denying subscribers access to premium soccer, tennis and motorsports content.

The FCC dismissed the first complaint in August 2018 for the reason that it was requesting more information. In December 2018, beIN Sports confirmed that it was moving forward with additional legal action against Comcast through the media bureau of US regulator the FCC.

Yet after reviewing the Second Complaint, the FCC judged that beIN Sports had failed to make a prima facie case of discrimination with regard to beIN en Español because it concluded that the Spanish channel and VPV Universo were not “similarly situated.” It also found that even though beIN Sports had established a prima facie case of discrimination for beIN, upon examining the merits of the case the FCC concluded that although beIN was “similarly situated” to Comcast-affiliated VPV NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and treated differently than NBCSN, Comcast did not discriminate on the basis of affiliation or non-affiliation.
Based on these findings, the FCC judged that there was by definition no violation of the Comcast-NBCU conditions. Accordingly, it dismissed beIN Sports’s Second Complaint with prejudice as to beIN en Español and denied the Second Complaint as to beIN.
Not surprisingly, in an official statement beIN said it was disappointed with the overall outcome of the Media Bureau’s order.
“We are pleased that the Media Bureau Order recognises that beIN SPORTS is similarly situated to NBC Sports and Comcast’s differential treatment of beIN has the effect of unreasonably restraining beIN from competing fairly,” beIN said. “In deciding the case in this manner, the Media Bureau erroneously took it upon itself to decide the merits based on Comcast’s raw assertions without testing the evidence in an adversarial proceeding, as is typical in these cases. In our continuing effort to place fans first, beIN SPORTS USA will review options concerning this Order and take appropriate steps to deliver our programming to the widest possible audience.”