In Depth

FCC Orders Hearings on NFL Network, Bright House, WealthTV Complaints

The Federal Communications Commission’s media bureau is giving the NFL Network, WealthTV and a Baltimore/Washington sports network a major victory in their battle for carriage on cable systems, saying there is sufficient evidence the channels are being discriminated against to justify administrative hearings.

The FCC ordered the hearings late last night. The NFL Network, WealthTV and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (which carries Baltimore and Washington Major League Baseball games) have complained to the FCC that cable providers including Comcast, Cox, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks have been unfairly discriminating in favor of their own sports and financial lifestyle networks, failing to either carry the rival networks at all, or failing to carry them on basic channel packages.

Cable providers have rejected the charges, but the battle over the NFL Network and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network has meant that local viewers have sometimes been unable to watch NFL and MLB games.

The FCC's media bureau last night in an order indicated it hadn’t reached a final determination on any of the complaints, but said threshold evidence of discrimination had been presented and hearings by an administrative judge are needed to generate a record to determine what action might be needed.

The NFL Network had complained about Comcast, while WealthTV complained about Comcast, Time Warner, Bright House and Cox. The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network had complained about Comcast.

(Editor: Baumann)