Comcast wins FCC ruling over Liberman's discrimination complaint

Comcast Center

The FCC has decided in favor of Comcast in a programming dispute with Spanish-language broadcaster Liberman Broadcasting.

The agency ruled, essentially, that Liberman is not a “video programming vendor” seeking a carriage deal for its Estrella TV. The company is actually a broadcaster, the FCC said, whose signal is carried on broadcast retransmission licensing. 

Liberman filed its complaint with the FCC after Comcast pulled Estrella from its program guide in Houston, Denver and Salt Lake City in February. In its discrimination complaint, Liberman accused Comcast of favoring its Spanish-language NBCUniversal assets, Telemundo and NBC Universo.

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"While it could be argued that Liberman is engaged in the 'production, creation, or wholesale distribution of video programming for sale' to the extent it seeks compensation from Comcast for carriage of its television broadcast stations, it is in fact negotiating compensation for the retransmission of its television broadcast 'signal' rather than carriage of the 'video programming' contained within that signal," the FCC said in its order. 

Liberman said it’s considering an appeal.

“We are disappointed by today’s decision from the FCC’s Media Bureau, which dismissed LBI’s complaint on a narrow technicality relating to standing," Liberman said in a statement.

"Obviously, we disagree with the Media Bureau’s interpretation of the relevant statutes. But more importantly, this technical decision in no way absolves Comcast of the underlying wrongdoing of discrimination against Estrella TV as an independent programmer."

In its own statement, Comcast said, "Liberman Broadcasting’s carriage complaint had no basis in law and was simply an attempt to extract carriage of Estrella TV and fees from Comcast that are in no way justified."

For more:
- read this Hollywood Reporter story

Comcast asks FCC to toss Estrella/Liberman complaint
Comcast/NBCU merger threatening programmer diversity, Public Knowledge and Common Cause say
Estrella TV tells Congress that Comcast is forcing it off the air

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