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Comcast Urged To Quit Case
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Thumbs up Comcast Urged To Quit Case - 20-February-2010, 07:25

Antitrust, Courts, Television
Friday, February 19, 2010
Comcast Urged To Quit Case

By David Hatch

A coalition of consumer advocates, labor interests and video service providers are urging Comcast President and CEO Brian Roberts to drop litigation that seeks to overturn an FCC regulation he has pledged to follow even if his company prevails in court. Comcast joined a challenge by Cablevision Systems Corp. of a program access requirement designed to ensure that programming owned by cable operators is shared with competing cable and satellite TV providers.

In the wake of the Comcast-NBC Universal merger announcement in December, Roberts has vowed to abide by the requirement even if the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia strikes it down -- a promise critics say is insufficient. "The fact that Comcast has not withdrawn from the litigation raises questions about whether your company will follow through on this commitment," the coalition wrote in a letter Friday to Roberts. "Your assurances are undercut by the fact that your company has a history of opposing the program access rules," they wrote.

In a statement, Comcast Executive Dirctor of Communications and Government Affairs Sena Fitzmaurice said the groups are "confused." Comcast only challenged "the FCC's extension of the rule that prohibits cable companies from entering into exclusive contracts that better enable them to compete with satellite companies who have exclusive content like [DirecTV's] NFL Sunday Ticket." She added that Comcast did not "challenge the rule that ensures that cable-affiliated programmers must charge fair and non-discriminatory rates to competing cable, satellite and phone companies in that case -- we do and will abide by those rules."

Fitzmaurice also noted that as part of the merger review, "Comcast has stated our willingness to discuss with the FCC making the program access rules binding on us even if they were to be overturned by the courts."
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