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Prior to Comcast-NBC Ruling, Court Upholds Ban on Channel Exclusivity

While Comcast awaits a final decision from the FCC on its acquisition of NBC Universal, it was also busy in court arguing that the FCC’s ban on withholding programs from its cable competitors should be thrown out. The courts disagreed.

Cablevision Systems Corp. and Comcast Corp. had challenged the FCC’s decision to keep the rule in place, arguing that the prohibition wasn’t necessary to preserve competition in the paid-TV market.The U.S. Court Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected that challenge in a 2-1 ruling.

The ban was initially passed in by Congress in 1992 and will now remain in effect through 2012. After that, if the ban doesn’t remain in place, Comcast will be able to keep Cablevision and other competitors from broadcasting MSNBC, Bravo, SyFy and USA, among other channels. They are currently arguing that “competition” will keep them from doing so — but competition in non-monopoly cable markets is actually the only reason Comcast would be interested in removing the exclusivity ban in the first place.

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