The FCC’s media bureau has dismissed a complaint filed in June by independent ministry-themed programmer The Word Network (TWN) against Comcast.
"After reviewing the complaint, we find that TWN has failed to put forth sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case that Comcast discriminated against it in violation of the non-discrimination condition by reducing distribution of TWN or by demanding exclusive digital rights to TWN’s programming,” read an FCC ruling, obtained by Multichannel News.
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.
Word filed a complaint with the FCC against Comcast in June, alleging the cable operator 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 ruling, however, the FCC said, “We reject TWN’s assertion that, unlike a non-discrimination complaint brought under the program carriage rules, a complaint brought by a video programming vendor under the non-discrimination condition in the Comcast-NBCU order does not need to make a prima facie case to the Media Bureau.”