Tennis Channel suffers new blow in Comcast dispute

The US Supreme Court has rejected pay-television broadcaster the Tennis Channel’s complaint against pay-television provider Comcast’s decision to carry the network on a premium sports tier in the latest development of long-running dispute between the two parties.

Tennis Channel in December called on the Supreme Court to review a ruling from a lower court that reiterated Comcast’s right to carry the network on a premium sports tier.

In May, a three-judge panel of the Washington DC Circuit overturned rulings from the Federal Communications Commission, the US media regulator, that Comcast should put Tennis Channel on an equal footing with Comcast-owned pay-television channels Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network.

The regulator concluded that Comcast was in violation of programme carriage provisions of the 1992 Cable Act, but the appellate judges said that the FCC “failed to identify adequate evidence of unlawful discrimination.”

Tennis Channel had argued that Comcast’s stance could be interpreted as a calculated competitive blocking tactic, effectively preventing the broadcaster from reaching the more than 21 million US homes that receive Comcast’s basic subscription package. However, the Supreme Court on Monday denied Tennis Channel’s petition for review without comment.

In a statement, Tennis Channel said it was “disappointed that the Supreme Court chose not to hear the case. This is not, of course, a decision on its merits, and not entirely surprising given the Court’s crowded docket. There remain a number of available options for Tennis Channel in the case, and we are considering our next steps in light of these options.”

Comcast said: “We are pleased that the finding by the lower court that Comcast did not discriminate against Tennis Channel will stand. We continue to make Tennis Channel available to tennis fans across the country in terms with our longstanding contract.”