WASHINGTON, April 8, 2016 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Liberman Broadcasting, the largest minority-owned Hispanic broadcast company in the U.S., and the family-owned parent company of fast-growing Spanish-language television network Estrella TV, today filed a major program carriage complaint with the FCC against Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company.
The complaint presents clear and compelling evidence that Comcast has discriminated against Estrella TV for the purpose of benefitting its own Spanish-language networks Telemundo and NBC Universo. In addition, the filing presents evidence of Comcast seeking to exert its market position to unlawfully force Estrella to relinquish the digital rights to its own content as a condition for carriage. These actions constitute violations of the FCC’s Program Carriage regulations, as well as of the merger conditions imposed on Comcast when it acquired NBCUniversal.
Commenting on the filing, Liberman Broadcasting CEO and President Lenard Liberman said, “Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company and owner of a vast array of TV networks including Telemundo and NBC Universo, has systematically abused its position by discriminating against a vibrant and fast-growing competitor in Estrella TV. Fortunately, the FCC’s Program Carriage rules exist precisely to address this type of practice. We hope the FCC will move swiftly to put a stop to Comcast’s egregious behavior not only for the good of our network, but also to send a message to all independent programmers that they need not endure unlawful abuse at the hands of Comcast.”
Liberman Broadcasting’s filing describes the company’s rise over the past several years to become a vigorous competitor with Comcast-owned Telemundo. This includes Nielsen data for key markets such as Los Angeles and Dallas-Ft.Worth where Estrella TV’s local broadcast station is distributed on a roughly equal basis with Telemundo. In both markets, Estrella TV ratings in key demographics in recent sweeps periods match or beat Telemundo’s. This impressive ratings performance is the reason other major multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) including AT&T/DIRECTV, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications and many others broadly distribute Estrella TV and why leading station groups including Sinclair Broadcast Group, TEGNA, Nexstar, Hearst and others have established affiliate relationships in markets nationwide.
Rather than following suit and distributing a channel with growing popularity to its viewers, Comcast has gone in the opposite direction, refusing to distribute Estrella TV on an equal basis with Telemundo and NBC Universo, leading to Estrella TV’s stations being dropped in three major markets: Denver, Houston and Salt Lake City. Since Comcast ceased distribution of Estrella TV’s stations in those markets, the ratings for Estrella TV’s stations have predictably collapsed, while Telemundo has in turn benefitted.
“At Estrella TV, we are proud of our growing popularity among Hispanic viewers and especially pleased by the ratings strength for our news programming, which we run every night against Telemundo’s novelas,” said Mr. Liberman. “Virtually every major MVPD broadly distributes us, while Comcast refuses to do so. The reason for this difference is obvious: only Comcast happens to also own Telemundo, one of our biggest competitors, as well as NBC Universo, a rebranded channel which does not come close to matching our popularity. That sort of blatant discrimination is contrary to the law and to the public interest.”
If Comcast is found to have violated the Program Carriage rules, the FCC can require Comcast to distribute and compensate Estrella TV on an equal basis with Telemundo.
PRESS CONFERENCE CALL DETAILS
Estrella TV will host an on the record press conference call to discuss their program carriage complaint filed today with the FCC against Comcast.
Friday, April 8, 2016
Dial-in: 1-888-339-2688, Passcode: 970 865 81
ABOUT LIBERMAN BROADCASTING
Since its 2009 launch, Estrella TV has established itself as a top U.S. Hispanic television network. The broadcast network has achieved its fast-track success by producing high-quality, original programming in-house at its Burbank, Calif. studios featuring well-known stars and popular personalities from the U.S. and Latin America. Estrella TV has built a catalog of more than 7,500 hours of programming now being distributed by the company worldwide. Estrella TV is owned and operated by Liberman Broadcasting, Inc., a leading Spanish-language, minority-owned media and entertainment company and one of the largest Spanish-language radio and television broadcasters in the U.S., based on both revenues and number of stations. For more information visit www.estrellatv.com.