Tennis Channel Rebuffed by High Court on Comcast Access

The U.S. Supreme Court turned away an appeal that sought to force Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable television system, to make the Tennis Channel more widely available to its customers.

The justices, without comment, today left intact a federal appeals court ruling that said Comcast made a legitimate business decision to offer the Tennis Channel as premium programming.

Tennis Channel Inc. sought to be placed on the same tier as two Comcast-owned sports networks, the Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network. Tennis Channel argued that Comcast’s refusal amounted to discrimination in violation of Federal Communications Commission rules.

The May appeals court ruling overturned an FCC order requiring Comcast to treat the channels equally. Comcast said that order might have cost it hundreds of millions of dollars.

Tennis Channel said the dispute isn’t over. “There remain a number of available options for Tennis Channel in the case, and we are considering our next steps in light of these options,” the company said in a statement.

Comcast said, “We continue to make Tennis Channel available to tennis fans across the country in terms with our longstanding contract.”

Philadelphia-based Comcast, which has 21 million subscribers, is planning to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. in a deal that would combine the two largest U.S. cable companies.

The case is Tennis Channel v. Comcast Cable Communications, 13-676.