It's official: Dish Network, DirecTV ask Comcast for access to Philadelphia sports

It may be approaching the dog days of summer, but Dish Network and DirecTV still want access to Philadelphia's sports teams. The two satellite providers have made formal what they've informally whined about for years: They want Comcast to give them access to Comcast SportsNet.

Cable companies like Comcast had been using a so-called terrestrial loophole that said if programming was not beamed onto satellite, it needn't be shared with satellite providers. Since Comcast uses its own terrestrial networks to transmit Philadelphia sports programming among its scattered Philadelphia market headends, it was not required to share that programming--which includes the Phillies, Flyers, 76ers and Big Five college basketball, among other teams--with satellite providers.

In January, the FCC said that this nationwide practice had to stop and that cable operators needed to share that programming or face disciplinary action. In San Diego, Cox Communications is negotiating deals to give its competitors access to the Padres. In New York City, Cablevision has skirted the issue, delivering its MSG and MSG Plus sports channels to AT&T in standard definition; AT&T has filed an FCC complaint to get that programming in high def.

Now, in Philadelphia, the shoe is on Comcast's foot since the two satellite providers have not so far taken their complaints to the FCC. Comcast has received the requests "and will review in due course and respond accordingly," Comcast spokesman Tim Fitzpatrick told Multichannel News.

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