Six months after Comcast more than halved distribution for The Word Network, the African American-targeted ministry channel has filed a complaint against the cable operator with the FCC.
In December, Comcast cut carriage of The Word from 12 million video customers to just 5 million. The cable operator instead chose to run another Detroit-based, independent African American-targeted ministerial channel, The Impact Network, in the affected markets.
The Word said Comcast dropped its reach from 456 communities nationwide in violation of FCC conditions imposed by the FCC on Comcast when it bought NBCUniversal in 2011.
“This is exactly the type of behavior that Comcast is prohibited from,” said The Word’s attorney, Markham Erickson, said to the Macomb Daily. The FCC mandates require Comcast not to favor its own NBCU channels—or more broadly, not cut channels that are clearly outperforming others it is not trimming.
“The Word Network is the leading network in its genre,” Erickson added. “There is no sound, legal justification for cutting The Word Network. It’s not a legitimate business decision because The Word Network is the superior network to The Impact Network.”
In its complaint, Word said, that it “features many of the most popular preachers in the United States, with congregations in the hundreds of thousands. The Impact Network, on the other hand, primarily features less popular preachers with smaller congregations.”
Comcast released a statement in December explaining the move:
“We continuously evaluate the content we deliver to our customers,” the cable company said. “As part of this ongoing process, we determined that The Impact Network provides a broader array of programming than The Word Network, which led us to our decision to increase Impact’s distribution. We are also continuing to carry The Word Network to millions of our customers in the Midwest and South based on its appeal in those regions.”