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August 10, 2012

Court Records Show Comcast Sought Stay of FCC Tennis Channel Carriage Order

IPI expert referenced: Bartlett D. Cleland | In The News | Media Hit
  Communications Daily

Comcast sought a stay of the FCC's recent Tennis Channel carriage order, pending its appeal, court filings show.

The cable operator asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to block the agency from enforcing the order until it hears the case.

"If the Order is not stayed pending review, Comcast's First Amendment rights will be incurably infringed, as its ability to speak through its own networks will be conditioned on broader distribution of Tennis Channel," it said.

A stay will also avoid harming Comcast's subscribers "who may be inconvenienced and confused, particularly if Comcast's distribution of Tennis Channel changes twice within a short time period," it said.

The FCC has until Aug. 16 at noon to respond to the stay motion, a court order said. Comcast's reply is due Aug. 21 at noon.

A frequent foe of telecom regulation opposed the FCC order granting Tennis Channel's program carriage complaint against Comcast (CD July 26 p5). The 3-2 ruling was a "further erosion by the FCC of the freedom to contract, and hence property rights protection," Institute for Policy Innovation Policy Counsel Bartlett Cleland wrote separately Thursday.

"In this case, where the government has chosen to step in for the owners of Comcast and dictate how to operate the business, specifically to dictate what channels must be included in what product offerings, consumer prices will be artificially increased because of the action of government."


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