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Comcast Holds RSN Talks

8/02/2010 12:01 AM Eastern

Washington — Comcast is
in talks with DirecTV and Dish
Network about carriage of its regional
sports network in Philadelphia,
according to people familiar
with those talks.

Both satellite carriers formally
asked the Federal Communications
Commission for access
to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia,
which televises Philadelphia
Phillies Major League
Baseball games, Philadelphia
76ers National Basketball Association
contests and Philadelphia
Flyers National Hockey League
match-ups.

The request came in the wake
of the commission’s decision earlier
this year that terrestrially delivered
networks were not de facto
excluded from complaints about
access to distributor-owned programming
(the so-called terrestrial
exemption).

Comcast holds a majority stake
in Comcast-Spectacor, which
owns the 76ers and the Flyers.

Comcast has long argued that
it would make the RSN available
to satellite providers, as it already
does to cable and telco competitors
(FiOS TV and RCN), when
Comcast gains access to exclusive
programming, such as DirecTV’s
Sunday Ticket package of out-ofmarket
NFL games.

The FCC’s rule change prompted
the carriage talks.

A source said talks are ongoing,
but that Comcast is still not inclined
to make the programming
available. Moreover, even if it
does, it will insist on conditions of
carriage that would make it more
palatable to the company.

A Comcast spokesperson declined
comment.

A DirecTV spokesperson confirmed
that the company had
made a formal request for access,
but said the company was “waiting
to hear back.” Asked if that meant
the company was not in discussions,
he declined comment. Officials at Dish Network could not be
reached at press time.

In related news last week, the
FCC granted the request of the
American Cable Association and
others to extend the comment
deadline on the Comcast and
NBC Universal joint-venture deal
by two weeks, until Aug. 19.

The extension came soon after
both Comcast and NBCU
said they supported the request
to move the deadline date from
Aug. 5.

ACA and others argued that
they needed the time to fully
vet Comcast and NBCU’s 599-
page defense of the deal, which
was filed July 21 but which ACA
said it could not access until after
that.
The ACA and others will gain
about the same amount of time
to respond as Comcast and NBC
Universal had to reply to the petitions
to deny the merger, which
were filed June 21.

The FCC has not stopped its
180-day informal shot clock on
the merger, according to a spokesperson.

September