Level US playing field? Comcast flexes its muscle and keeps beIN off its network

December 17 – beIN SPORTS, battling industrial scale piracy of their sports rights in the Middle East by Saudi Arabian broadcaster beoutQ, are now being forced to fight for fair treatment for their channel distribution in the US.

The US dispute is over what Comcast pays for carriage rights. Comcast dropped the channel in August when its carriage deal expired and it refused to pay the rights fee being asked by beIN.

Comcast broadcast an on-screen message that it no longer had the rights to carry the service and urged viewers to search or say ‘soccer’ into their voice remotes, and ‘You’ll find a collection of games, highlights and more.’

beIN tried to renegotiate with US giant that is the largest pay TV provider in the US with more than 22 million subscribers. But was getting nowhere.

This forced beIN to file a carriage complaint with the Federal Communications Commission against Comcast, claiming “that Comcast has ignored its obligations as a vertically integrated multichannel video programming distributor and discriminated against beIN SPORTS as an independent network in favor of its own soccer content and other sports programming to the detriment of beIN SPORTS and its viewers, violating program carriage rules.”

The complaint against Comcast was dismissed by the FCC despite its regulators not agreeing with Comcast’s arguments. beIN tried to re-engage but Comcast has refused to come to the negotiation table. This has forced beIN to refile the complaint.

“We have spent many months tirelessly trying to negotiate reasonable terms with Comcast, but Comcast has now, point-blank, refused to negotiate with us,” said Antonio Briceño, beIN SPORTS’ Deputy Managing Director for the U.S. and Canada. “Thus, beIN SPORTS has refiled our carriage complaint against Comcast, providing additional evidence, consistent with FCC guidance, to substantiate Comcast’s discriminatory practices against beIN SPORTS and in favor of their NBC affiliates. Unfortunately, this is a continued strategy of leveraging large, vertically integrated cable carriers against smaller networks like ours to the detriment of devoted, loyal fans.”

beIN holds a number of exclusive rights to big European leagues including LaLiga, Süper Lig and Ligue1.

“We remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached to reinstate beIN SPORTS at the same levels of distribution as Comcast’s own sports networks with which beIN SPORTS simply seeks to compete on a fair basis,” added Briceño.

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