Court calls time-out in Comcast-Tennis Channel dispute


ComcastIn a split vote, the FCC has ordered Comcast to include the Tennis Channel in basic tiers including other sports offerings such as the Golf Channel. FCC refused to stay the order while the matter is challenged in court, but the court has granted a stay.

Comcast believes it will succeed on the merits of the case, which makes it no different than Tennis Channel or the FCC. It also believed that it would be irreparably harmed if it has to juggle its lineup to accommodate the FCC order, while Tennis Channel will not if it succeeds but is merely delayed in moving to a new tier.

The DC Circuit granted Comcast’s request for a stay pending resolution of the Comcast challenge.
Comcast said the stay was a victory for its subscribers, who will avoid incurring extra programming costs. Tennis Channel said it was disappointed, that it believed the FCC made the right call and that it was confident it would win in court.

The two dissenting FCC Commissioners, Republicans Robert McDowell and Ajit Pai, applauded the Court decision. In a joint statement, they said, “We are pleased that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has decided to issue a stay of the Commission’s order in the Tennis Channel proceeding.  As stated in our joint dissent, we believe the decision errs on both the law and the facts, undermines the public interest, and raises serious First Amendment concerns.  We look forward to the federal appeals court giving this matter a full and fair hearing while preventing irreparable harm to the parties.”