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FCC ruling opens local sports broadcast to competition

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

For the first time ever, satellite TV providers are now able to broadcast local sports games in Philadelphia.  Comcast has historically had a monopoly on broadcasting Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers games, but a ruling by the Federal Communications Commission paves the way for competition.

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Comcast SportsNet is distributed via microwave to regional cable systems.  This system has allowed the cable provider to withhold the channel from satellite providers like Direct TV.  But the FCC now says Comcast has to sell that content to competitors.

Direct TV spokesman Don Mercer says while the ruling could lead to competition, the company still has hurdles to jump.

Mercer: We have to go to Comcast which owns the regional sports network and renew our request for carriage and if they deny that to us then we file a complaint go through the process as laid out by the FCC.  So it’s difficult to say when this program will be available to our customers in the area.

Direct TV says its market penetration is about 40 percent less in Philadelphia than in other markets – where it  can broadcast regional sports.  Comcast disputes that claim.

Comcast declined to comment on the F-C-C ruling.

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