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beIN SPORTS refiles FCC carriage complaint against Comcast

beIN SPORTS has refiled their FCC carriage complaint against Comcast arguing that the cable provider is discriminating against beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Español.

In July 2018, Comcast removed beIN SPORTS from its cable networks in what appeared to be retaliation for beIN SPORTS filing a FCC carriage dispute complaint against the country’s largest cable provider. That filing by beIN SPORTS was dismissed by the FCC without prejudice due to a lack of evidence, thus allowing beIN SPORTS the opportunity to refile the complaint at a later date, if they so wished.

The original FCC filing in March 2018 argued that Comcast was unfairly discriminating against beIN SPORTS by having beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Español only available on premium, upper-tier sports or Spanish-language packages while Comcast-owned channels such as NBCSN and Universo were widely available on lower-tier packages. Since Comcast owns NBC Sports who are the exclusive rights-holders to the Premier League in the United States, it was in the best interests of Comcast to block access to beIN SPORTS, thereby preventing subscribers from watching the biggest competitor to the Premier League, which is Spain’s LaLiga that’s exclusively available via beIN SPORTS.

By Comcast removing beIN SPORTS from its programming, which was quickly followed by DIRECTV doing the same, beIN SPORTS lost millions of subscribers practically overnight.

During the summer, Comcast defended their decision to drop beIN SPORTS because they were “asking for a major increase in fees for the channel [subscribers] already have, which could have a big impact on [a cable] bill.”

However, during the summer and fall of 2018, beIN SPORTS managed to renew every single carriage agreement with TV providers in the United States except for two holdouts — Comcast and AT&T’s DIRECTV.

The reality is that beIN SPORTS is trying to compete in a TV industry that is largely controlled and influenced by media giants. Comcast appears to be trying to limit the distribution of beIN SPORTS, which helps the business interests of Comcast, a media giant that has a monopoly in many markets across the country.

In a statement issued today by beIN SPORTS, the network argues that “We have spent many months tirelessly trying to negotiate reasonable terms with Comcast. But Comcast has now, point-blank, refused to negotiate with us. Thus, beIN SPORTS is today refiling our carriage complaint against Comcast, providing more detailed and robust evidence, consistent with FCC guidance, to substantiate Comcast’s discriminatory practices against beIN SPORTS and in favor of Comcast’s NBC affiliates. Such practices are not only damaging to fair competition and plurality in the broadcast market, but also deny sports fans premium sports content.

“As described in the original complaint, Comcast has discriminated against beIN SPORTS in favor of its own soccer content and other sports-related programming to the detriment of beIN SPORTS’ loyal viewers and sports fans across the country. beIN SPORTS feels this violates the program carriage rules.

“As a network that puts sports fans first, beIN SPORTS USA is committed to providing our passionate viewers with equal access to the world-class sports coverage and content they deserve. We remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached to reinstate beIN SPORTS at the same levels of distribution as Comcast’s own sports networks, with which beIN SPORTS simply seeks to compete on a fair basis.”

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Vantage

    July 19, 2019 at 11:46 am

    Frontier/Vantage is dropping BeIN per legal filing

    The Southern New England Telephone Company (“SNET”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Frontier Communications Corporation (“Frontier”), provides video programming service (“VantageTV”) in Connecticut as a competitive video service provider. In accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. §16-331k, Frontier is providing this notice to advise you that we will notify customers about changes to the Vantage TV line-up.
    • Frontier is currently in negotiations with beIN Sports regarding carriage of their networks and we will continue to negotiate in good faith. However, it is likely that we will not reach an agreement and that beIN Sports (channel 662/3120/1662/3320) and beIN Sports Espanol (channel 663/3119/1633/3319) will be discontinued on August 1, 2019 when the contract expires. If an agreement is not reached with the content provider, customers will be advised of the discontinuation of the channels via STB on or prior to August 1, 2019. Sample customer message below.
    Sample customer notice:
    After a review of costs, viewership & flexible package placement, the decision was made to no
    longer offer beIN Sports(Ch 662/3120/1662/3320) & beIN (Ch.663/3119/1633/3320) Visit Frontier.com/ChannelUpdates
    Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

  2. Juan

    December 18, 2018 at 9:41 am

    Is there anything to beIN Sports showing the Libertadores draw? That was a surprise.

    • Christopher Harris

      December 18, 2018 at 10:13 am

      I was surprised too. I enquired about it, but according to my sources, the rights to the Copa Libertadores tournament are still in the bidding phase and a decision hasn’t been reached yet.

      beIN SPORTS must be interested in acquiring the rights though. As far as I remember, they’ve never streamed the draw before on their social media channels.

  3. Ritchie

    December 16, 2018 at 8:22 am

    What national cable/satellite provider does carry Bein? Verizon?

    Bein would be more convincing if they told us (via the filing) what exactly they were asking for from Comcast. La Liga games (especially RM and Barca) rarely conflict with EPL matches, so the threat of La Liga impacting NBCSN is overstated to me. Furthermore, since AT&T has also dropped them, maybe the channel is genuinely without appeal (and please don’t try to convince me that AT&T is protecting their weekday CL coverage).

    • Efrain

      December 16, 2018 at 11:38 am

      I think DISH still carries them.

  4. Azer

    December 14, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    I only had beIN Sports en Espanol on my Comcast cable. I would set the SAP on the channel and was able to watch La Liga in English, now the channel is gone. I miss watching some La Liga games and listening to the great Simon Hanley, Duncan McMath, Bruno Bergarenche and the other La Liga commentators on the world feed. It’ll be interesting to see who gets the La Liga rights next. I don’t think Fox Sports will acquire the rights. My guess is ESPN Deportes with ESPN3 in English. What do you think?

    • Jon

      December 16, 2018 at 2:33 am

      I think you’re probably right on.

    • Eddie

      December 16, 2018 at 9:24 am

      Espn and Univision could get la liga in 2020?

  5. joe

    December 14, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Well said Yespage, one thing Bein did get right, it is indeed to the detriment of the fans as this debacle continues.

  6. Yespage

    December 14, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    BeinSport has the issue of lacking programming of value. BeinSport is in much competition with NBC Sports as the MLS is in competition for talent with the EPL.

    • JP

      December 14, 2018 at 4:12 pm

      They are in direct competition! NBCSN for the occasional PL match and NHL playoffs, beIN for La Liga and The Express and Locker Room. They really aren’t that different. When you factor in CBSSN having absolutely nothing of note but no carriage issues, becomes even more glaring.

      • F Pugh

        December 15, 2018 at 9:30 am

        Um not, they are in no competition at all, the ratings, value of the networks in the U.S. don’t even compare. La Liga outside of the Classico and two clubs is basically a non entity in the U.S as much as soccer fans like to pretend other wise.
        Ligue 1 is practically worthless and the turkish league is worthless, conference USA and random wrestling is as well. Your NHL comment makes no sense, it is on mostly in the evenings weekdays and afternoons ocassionally on weekends, nobody including soccer fans is watching beIN on the evenings during the week. This nonsense will be thrown out again and hopefully beIN sports will go the way of Al Jazeera news soon.

        I do love how Chris keeps pushing this narrative that Comcast is quaking in their boots at the thought of beIN sports, it is nonsense. Please research issues and don’t just regurgitate talking points your beIN source gives you. I’m guessing you think At&t also is quaking at the thought of beIN sports? Stick to copy and pasting ratings you are given.

        • JP

          December 16, 2018 at 12:53 pm

          Explain why Comcast didn’t even offer beIN in HD when they did carry it, while beIN en Espanol was? Burying a channel English speaking soccer fans might watch. Made it unattractive for them to watch vs what they’d find on NBCSN (their choice narrowed down to SD or Spanish commentary).

      • John G.

        December 17, 2018 at 8:20 am

        How much is CBS Sports Network charging for carriage? Presumably far less than BEin Sports wants for its programming.

        • Christopher Harris

          December 17, 2018 at 11:52 am

          But what valuable content does CBS Sports Network have? Certainly no soccer. beIN SPORTS, on the other hand, are paying $125 million a year for the exclusive English and Spanish rights to LaLiga, arguably the best technical league in the world (and featuring the two most popular clubs worldwide).

          • Andrew

            December 18, 2018 at 5:18 pm

            Weirdly enough, CBS Sports Network does have some good, important College Football and Basketball games, games that are way better than just Conference USA for BeinSport.

            Now that still isn’t more valuable than La Liga on Bein, but for a lot of Americans, even lower level NCAA football/basketball Power 5 games could draw just as well as a non-Barca/Real La Liga game.

            • Eddie

              December 18, 2018 at 7:32 pm

              CBS could bid la liga soccer maybe or not?

              • JP

                December 18, 2018 at 8:39 pm

                Wouldn’t hold my breath, they never seem to be in on any of the soccer bids. It would fit perfectly in their non existent morning programming slots though, can’t imagine the rodeo or whatever they show gets huge ratings.

  7. Adil H. Mouhammed

    December 14, 2018 at 10:19 am

    It is a very simple issue. “America is first”. This means it is naked discrimination against non-American Non Dolicho blond institutions and individuals. Even if the BeIn Sport has a solid case with evidience a court can dismiss the case under the pretext of No Evidence. Att and Comcast are biggest oligopolists in US market and are connected with the government and serve US imperialism. BeIn Sport should compete by making the “price” very low to disintegrate oligopolists, because the big fish rejects competition as they cannot compete. US monopoly capitalism is a system of exclusion and destruction for profits. Att and Coomcast are sucking American blood as they charge very costs for their garbage shows. Now, they charge 50 dollars a month to to give a customer a local TV which can be obtained free. They are lucky the have President who supports large dominating companies.
    I give an example. NBC used to bring PL for people to watch. Now, NBC has its own sport and has NBC gold to watch the same garbage. The Network shows good games at NBC gold and others on Dash. So, you have to pay twice. Again, HULU has no BeIn sport and customers pay 45 dollars a month and FuboTV charges 45 dollars to watch basically the Laliga. With my pleasure

    • Philly in Phil

      December 15, 2018 at 9:22 am

      Please forget about Soccer and everything else and just seek help immediately.

    • John G.

      December 17, 2018 at 8:16 am

      Baseless socialist ravings aside… as long as Comcast is allowed to own Universo et al, it is in a conflict of interest position. This is not necessarily unlawful, but if they act in a monopolistic fashion, they are subject to court orders and adverse judgments. This appears to be such a situation.

      Personally, I would like to see the Federal Government bar vertical monopolies between content producers and content distributors… there is ample precedent for such a move, as movie studios were ordered to divest their movie theater holdings using the same logic (and without any evidence of ethnic or racial discrimination).

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