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Comcast Holding On Tight To Philly [Sunday News (Lancaster, PA)]
[January 25, 2011]

Comcast Holding On Tight To Philly [Sunday News (Lancaster, PA)]

(Sunday News (Lancaster, PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Not so fast satellite owners. Sports fans no doubt got their hopes up last week when they read in several publications that Comcast had to make SportsNet Philadelphia available to satellite companies in order for federal regulators to sign off on the cable provider's purchase of NBC Universal.

But according to Comcast's reading of the Federal Communications Commission ruling, those fans might be disappointed.

"The FCC doesn't address Comcast SportsNet in any way," corporate spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said Thursday in a telephone interview from her office in Washington, D.C. "SportsNet is a terrestrially delivered network [the transmission lines go underground] that is unique in how it is distributed, which means it does not have to provide access to satellite." Fitzmaurice said Comcast does give access to SportsNet to Verizon customers, but the FCC requirement that Comcast provide access to regional sports network programming does not apply to SportsNet Philly.

"It is the only one of multiple sports cable networks owned by Comcast [for which] this is an issue," Fitzmaurice said.

The FCC declined to comment on this story.

A spokesperson for DirecTV said the company is reviewing the FCC ruling and appreciates the arbitration process that was put into place to settle disputes. DirectTV remains hopeful that the ruling or any resulting arbitration will open up the Philly market.

"We thank the FCC for imposing conditions on this transaction that ensure that consumers continue to get access to all Comcast NBCU programming, including online programming, at fair and reasonable rates," spokesman Robert Mercer said. "Arbitration is an effective tool to ensuring that rates are market-based. We are pleased that arbitration has been extended to national programming, as well as broadcast and regional sports networks." What you get for free: Credit this inquiry to Jay Weaver, an avid reader of this space who recently started using an antenna. He wants to know what local channels are broadcast for over-the-air TV viewing.

The number of channels available from an antenna may vary, but local offerings usually include WGAL-TV 8.1 (main WGAL programming, NBC HD), 8.2 ( "This," which has old TV shows and movies), WLYH-TV CW 15.1 (main CW programming, HD), WHP-TV 21.1 (main WHP programming, CBS HD), 21.2 ("My 21.2," syndicated programming), WHTM- TV ABC 27.1 (main WHTM programming, ABC HD), 27.2 ("RTV 27," old TV shows and movies) and 27.3 ("Weather Now," the local AccuWeather Channel).

Other channels include WITF-TV 33.1 (main WITF, PBS programming), WPMT-TV Fox 43.1 (main WPMT programming, Fox HD), 43.2 ("Antenna TV," which carries vintage shows and movies) and 43.3 (24-hour WPMT newscasts). Some viewers may get two versions of Channel 49.

New channel: Antenna TV begins broadcasting Tuesday, Jan. 25, on Comcast channel 247.

HD channels in 800s: Comcast is doing away with its HD channels located in the 200s starting Tuesday, Jan. 25. Currently, the cable provider runs many of the same high-definition channels in the 200s and 800s. No one is losing anything. All HD offerings will be located between channels 785 and 917 and will be grouped by genre, with news, movies and sports offerings clustered together.

Premium channels in the 300s (such as HBO) will remain where they are. They are not affected. DVR channel settings will not be impacted either, a Comcast spokesperson said.

Staff writer Eric Stark discusses trends and tidbits in broadcast media each week in the Sunday News. Write to him at

(Copyright 2011 Lancaster Newspapers. All rights reserved.) (c) 2011 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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