Comcast gets Word Network complaint tossed by FCC

Comcast Center headquarters in Philadelphia. Image: Comcast
The Word Network said Comcast violated FCC conditions by dropping its channel from 456 communities nationwide. (Comcast)

The FCC has tossed a complaint made last year against Comcast by independent ministry programmer The Word Network (TWN), accusing the cable company of violating conditions tied to its 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal. 

“After reviewing the complaint, we conclude that TWN has failed to establish a prima facie case of a violation of the exclusivity condition or the unfair practices condition. Accordingly, we dismiss TWN’s complaint with respect to these allegations,” the FCC said an opinion released last week. 

RELATED: Comcast gets FCC complaint from ministry channel Word

WHITEPAPER

How To Lower the Cost of Ownership of Your Cable Access Network

This white paper presents a cost analysis of a virtualized cable modem termination system (CMTS) deployed in a distributed access architecture (DAA). Learn how to eliminate traditional CMTS constraints, efficiently enhance your network performance and more.

In December 2016, Comcast dramatically reduced the amount of carriage it gave to the African-American-targeted TWN, cutting distribution of the Detroit-based network from 12 million to 5 million subscribers. 

TWN 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 TWN’s attorney, Markham Erickson, 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, TWN 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 2016 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.”

Suggested Articles

WarnerMedia scored a key HBO Max distribution deal with Comcast just as it launched in May. Nearly six months later, there still isn’t an app.

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s recently launched streaming video service, is rolling out 20% discounts on annual Premium subscriptions for Black Friday.

How can we defend ourselves? Mostly, it’s a matter of common sense.