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What will happen to Comcast SportsNet?

With the path seemingly clear for Comcast to acquire a majority share of NBC Universal, consumers may be wondering what to expect.  One thing they should be able to count on is greater access to Philadelphia sports teams.

The FCC approved the Comcast NBC-Universal deal with the proviso that the cable giant distribute its long monopolized “Comcast SportsNet” to satellite providers.  That means subscribers to DirecTV and DISH Network will at long last get to watch the Flyers, Sixers, and Phillies on the sports network.

But an FCC ruling last year closed the so-called “terrestrial loophole,” which had been Comcast’s justification for keeping rights to the channel away from satellite.  Joe Mahan, Assistant Professor in the Sports and Recreation Management Program at Temple University, says the company has been dragging its feet on complying with the ruling.

“This closing of the terrestrial loophole didn’t really result in any tangible benefits to the consumer.  We’ll see if in fact second time is a charm,” Mahan said.

Mahan says even if forced to distribute SportsNet to some competitors, the company may be willing to do so.

“Now they have a larger national picture, so what they might lose regionally or locally, they’ve now gained as part of the NBC Universal family of networks,” said Mahan.  “They now have a bigger national presence that could set its sights on something like ESPN as a competitor.”

Still, Mahan says Comcast may appeal the FCC rule.

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