U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Tennis Channel-Comcast case

Tennis Channel provides coverage of major tournaments, including the Australian Open. Above, Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka celebrates after his victory against Spain's Rafael Nadal in the men's singles final of the 2014 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.
(Saeed Khan / AFP/Getty Images)

A ruling by the chair umpire stands.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up the Tennis Channel’s petition to overturn an appeals court ruling that Comcast Corp. had operated within its rights when it placed Tennis Channel in a sports package with limited distribution.

The Supreme Court’s denial seems to slam the door on the Tennis Channel’s marathon legal case against the nation’s largest cable television operator.

“We are pleased that the finding by the lower court that Comcast did not discriminate against Tennis Channel will stand,” Sena Fitzmaurice, Comcast’s vice president of government communications, said in a statement.


In May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of Comcast, saying Tennis Channel had failed to prove that Comcast had discriminated against it by placing the channel in a higher-priced sports tier with fewer subscribers.

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The independently owned Santa Monica TV network has been lobbying for at least four years to be included in Comcast’s basic service package that serves more than 21 million homes.

Tennis Channel argued that it should be placed on equal footing with two sports channels that Comcast owns that are included in Comcast’s basic service package: the Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network.

Last year’s appeals court decision reversed a controversial 2012 finding by the Federal Communications Commission. A divided FCC found that Comcast had illegally put Tennis Channel at a competitive disadvantage by placing it in the higher-priced tier. Comcast provides the sports channels it owns to all of its subscribers.

The commission ordered Comcast to remedy the situation. But Comcast appealed the FCC decision.


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Tennis Channel had been banking on scoring more subscribers, which could have boosted the size of the channel’s audience, leading to tens of millions of dollars more through increased advertising sales and additional subscriber fees.

“We are disappointed that the Supreme Court chose not to hear the case,” Tennis Channel said in a statement. “This is not, of course, a decision on its merits, and not entirely surprising given the Court’s crowded docket.”

“There remain a number of available options for Tennis Channel in the case, and we are considering our next steps,” the channel said.


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Twitter: @MegJamesLAT