Satellite TV sports viewers rejoice: the FCC could end the Comcast “SportsNet” monopoly
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on December 16th, 2009
Monopolies are typically not a good thing, unless you are playing the popular and beloved Parker Brothers game with your children.
But for years, Philadelphia sports fans in the greater Philadelphia area who wanted to watch most of the games involving their beloved Phillies, Flyers and Sixers on television haven’t been able to watch unless they subscribed to Comcast Corp.’s cable TV services. That’s because most Phillies, Flyers and Sixers games are broadcast only on Comcast’s own SportsNet channel. That’s not a problem if you are a Comcast subscriber, but if you want to partake of satellite TV providers like DirecTV or Dish Network for a more competitive price or a different assortment of channels, you’ve been out of luck. Comcast doesn’t make Comcast SportsNet available to the satellite companies for broadcast. So if you want to watch the games that are only available via SportsNet, you can’t go with a satellite provider.
But that might change next year, according to a story in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Federal Communications Commission is apparently looking at changing a “terrestrial loophole” in its rules that for years has allowed Comcast to keep its SportsNet programming from its competitors, according to the Inquirer. The FCC’s chairman, Julius Genachowski, reportedly wants this loophole closed to promote fairer competition among pay-TV companies, the story said.
In the big scheme of things in this crazy world of ours, this is a tiny issue. But it is a matter of fairness for literally millions of pay-TV subscribers whose choices are limited in part by a monopolistic regulation created in a different time.
And fairness, after all, is the reason for reviewing laws, regulations, loopholes and other issues that are outdated or outmoded.
This FCC rules review is a good one for everyone, from TV viewers to pay-TV providers. And creating some real competition on a more level playing field could help bring better rates and service deals for consumers who have been locked in by high rates from all the pay-TV companies.
The FCC ruling could come in January, according to the Inquirer. What a great New Year’s present that could be for TV viewers seeking better choices.