Complaint Against Comcast by Spanish-Language Program Network Highlights Video Market ProblemsApril 8, 2016
Today, Liberman Broadcasting, a long-established Spanish-language broadcasting company, filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission arguing that Comcast has unlawfully discriminated against Estrella TV, one of its programming networks. Public Knowledge encourages the FCC to review this claim carefully.
The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:
“Both smaller and independent programmers often claim they are strong-armed by major cable companies with enough market power to prevent them from experimenting with new business models, force them to reduce their investments in programming, or even drive them out of business altogether. But fear of retaliation has made this situation more of an ‘open secret’ than a documented fact, as some programmers would share their concerns privately but stay silent publicly for fear of retribution from powerful cable companies.
“However, cable abuses have gotten so bad that some video programmers are beginning to speak up. In the FCC's docket on video competition, for instance, some programmers have detailed the demands that big cable makes of them — demands that don't just harm programmers, but reduce the choice available to viewers.
“Liberman Broadcasting's program carriage complaint against Comcast is the latest to document the abuses of a large cable company. Liberman has presented a strong case that Comcast has discriminated against its Estrella TV network in favor of Comcast's own Telemundo and NBC Universo and is violating the terms of the FCC’s conditions for accepting the Comcast/NBCU merger. The complaint raises legitimate concerns that Comcast favored its own affiliated programming over Estrella and demanded that Liberman turn over digital rights, and used proprietary data about viewers gathered from its locked-down set-top boxes to make claims about Estrella's audience.
“The FCC should examine Liberman's specific claims carefully. Additionally, it should use the information it learns when reviewing this case to better understand the anti-competitive and manipulative practices that have become increasingly common in the video marketplace.”