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.”