The recommendation from the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau to the commission itself was part of the intense legal volleying this week in the Tennis Channel’s discrimination case against Comcast. Commission staffers said that they were simply going along with an Administrative Law Judge’s ruling in December: The judge concluded that Comcast had fouled The Tennis Channel by treating it differently than it does rival channels that it owns, the Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network. The Comcast-owned channels typically are part of the popular expanded basic package with ESPN and USA Network — but customers who want Tennis must pay an additional $5 or more each month for the Sports Tier that also includes NFL RedZone and ESPN Classic. The ruling said Comcast should fix things “as soon as practicable.” But Comcast told commissioners that it’s appealing the judge’s decision, which means that ordering immediate compliance would violate its due process rights. The cable company says that “moving even one channel may require wholesale alterations to Comcast’s channel line-up, as each channel displaces another, giving rise to a kind of domino effect. These changes will be difficult and costly to implement.” Last week Comcast asked the FCC to overrule the Administrative Law Judge entirely. The company says that The Tennis Channel is just trying to get out of a carriage deal it wishes it hadn’t made.
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