DirecTV and Dish Network Refuse Arbitration to Resolve SportsNet Philadelphia Issue
Tuesday, January, 28, 2014
A long-standing feud involving U.S. cable network ComCast and satellite television providers DirecTV and Dish Network will continue to simmer for the time being, as both DirecTV and Dish Network have refused to enter into arbitration with ComCast over the local sports network SportsNet Philadelphia, which carries almost all of the baseball games played by the local franchise the Philadelphia Phillies.
The dispute dates back almost a decade, when ComCast used a loophole in federal regulations to prevent the satellite networks from carrying the popular local sports channel. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) changed the regulations in 2010 in order to close the loophole, but SportsNet Philadelphia remains off both satellite slates because neither satellite network is willing to pay the carrying fees, which are reportedly as high as $5 per subscriber – a fee more typical for national networks such as ESPN.
While Dish and DirecTV maintain that ComCast is overpricing the network’s fees in order to maintain its monopoly on offering the station in the Philadelphia area, both companies refused to enter into arbitration over the matter. While neither company commented on the issue, it’s believed they are attempting to force ComCast and other cable companies to lower fees on sports networks, which the satellite providers believe are consistently overpriced.
It’s estimated the satellite providers have lost up to 450,000 subscribers due to the missing network.