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Legend
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I read today on Skyreport that the Consumer Union made a filing with the FCC regarding the infamous "terrestrial loophole," and as I had a couple of extra minutes I sent an email to the FCC chairman with my thoughts.

I know I am a very small David attacking a couple of large Goliaths, and this will only ever be read by an aide if I am lucky, but it was nice to vent a bit. Just thought I would share this here. I am not naive, and I realize this is a small drop in a rather large bucket, but at least it killed 15 minutes at work rather nicely.

Of course, if a miracle happens and the loophole closes, I claim complete credit...:lol:

Sir,

I realize that I am but one voice, but I wanted to make a point about the "terrestrial loophole", regarding the ability for cable TV providers to prevent regional sports networks from providing a feed to satellite television companies. I understand the Consumer Union recently filed a statement with the FCC regarding this, and I just wanted to add my thoughts as a consumer.

I live in Suburban Philadelphia. Comcast is the cable provider in my area. However, they have claimed for years that they cannot provide service to my address, as there is "not enough room on the utility poles." The fact that the poles have been changed at least twice does not seem to matter. Comcast will not provide either cable television or broadband internet. Verizon has yet to reach our area as well, so my only option is satellite service. While I suspect that the fact that there are only 3 homes on my road and the cable run would be very long is more of the issue, I will accept their explanation for bypassing me at face value. The end result is, Comcast will not provide me service, and has shown no effort to overcome any obstacles that may exist to facilitate service for my family.

Thanks to the terrestrial loophole, Comcast is able to deny DirecTV, my provider, with a feed of their Comcast Sports Network. Comcast not only owns the network and delivery system, they are part owners of the sports teams shown on the network, and at least one of the stadiums where the games are played. Some state tax money was used to subsidize that stadium. I realize my individual contribution to that subsidy was minimal, but it still galls me that I do not even have the right to pay for the privilege of watching sports events in that stadium when public money was used to Comcast's advantage. I feel as though I am being bullied by a corporation. Comcast is creating an increase my taxes, limiting my choice of providers to none, and denying me access to my "home" sports teams.

Comcast often cites DirecTV's exclusive access to Sunday Ticket for the NFL as a reason for keeping the Comcast Sports Network exclusive. What they don't mention is the fact that they were simply outbid for Sunday Ticket in a private transaction. Also, the Sunday Ticket is exclusively an out of market program. DirecTV is denying no one in Philadelphia access to its home team, the Eagles. I can watch every Eagles game. I cannot see a significant number of Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers games. In fact, I was even denied access to Flyers play-off games last year, games traditionally provided on a national basis. I also cannot access college, national programming of second tier sports such as major league lacrosse, or national sports shows from Fox Sports because my regional network is dark for me. Frankly, the Sunday Ticket issue is an argument between three rather large corporations (Comcast, DirecTV and the NFL). I should not be held "hostage" as part of their maneuverings.

Please consider closing this loophole in the law. It is anticompetitive and simply unfair. Comcast Sports Network will only increase viewership, and thereby increase their advertising revenues. If they fear they will lose subscribers to satellite, they should re-evaluate their systems to be ensure consumer satisfaction and retention. Comcast will survive quite nicely, and I will finally have access to the home games of the Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers.

Thank you for your attention.
 

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Hall Of Fame
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Very nicely worded and thoroughly thoughout letter.
 

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Registered
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8,024 Posts
Very well written.

The only other thing I would have added, is that (assuming you are/do) you are a registered voter and actively vote and you will take your reps vote into consideration the next election.
 

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Legend
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155 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
RobertE said:
The only other thing I would have added, is that (assuming you are/do) you are a registered voter and actively vote and you will take your reps vote into consideration the next election.
That is an interesting point, that I hadn't considered. Can the FCC, as an appointed body, close the loophole if they wanted to, or would it require Congressional action?
 

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Hall Of Fame
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PWenger said:
If they fear they will lose subscribers to satellite, they should re-evaluate their systems to be ensure consumer satisfaction and retention.
Very nice letter.

If you do send copies as suggested, I would fix the quoted sentence (remove the word "be" in front of "ensure"). ;)
 

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Icon
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810 Posts
Extremely well written! Nice work - hopefully something comes of it.

Any other PHILLY area people here?? Get on the bandwagon !

PS - it was only last year that I finally eluded the ties of the Dolans/Cablevision and got MSG in HD - they'd done nearly the same thing as Comcast by witholding the HD feeds for Rangers/Knicks and MLS. I feel your pain.
 

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Godfather
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350 Posts
Great letter.... It really is a bad situation and I am not even a Philly sports fan. I moved from Atlanta.
 

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Slacker
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Excellently written letter!
 

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Legend
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200 Posts
Great letter - I'm a Philly transplant in CA and have been annoyed for years that I couldn't get CSN Philly at least for the local programming - but would be beside myself if I was in the Philly area and couldn't access the games - my buddy is in the same situation you are.

I hope an end to the loophole is near!!!
 

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AllStar
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72 Posts
Great letter. I will send similar letters to FCC and our Senators. I don't remember the statistics but I believe DTV subscriber base in the Phildadelphia area is 50% less then other metropolitan areas - primarily due to this loophole.

Also as part of Comcast purchasing Adelphia's assets (subsribers) they agreed to eliminate this loophole in all other places (I believe the Carolinas and another location I can't think of) EXCEPT for their home base - Philadelphia where the loophole remains alive an well. Amazing that this was allowed to happen but it did...

In the meantime I will continue to be a DTV subsciber and miss nearly all 76ers, Phillies, and Flyers games
 

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Legend
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128 Posts
Outstanding letter! It's unbelievable that this loophole has been allowed to continue for this long (it absolutely should have been eliminated as a condition of the Adelphia takeover). Excellent job of illuminating Comcast's multi-level ownership of the teams, the stadium, the channel and the cable system, along with the differences between CSN-Philadelphia and the NFL Sunday Ticket arrangement.

I'm also originally from the Philly area and follow the Philly teams exclusively. I've also been hoping for CSN-Philly on the DirecTv Sports Pack for years, and it's truly unfair to those in metro Philadelphia (who support the teams directly and subsidize the stadiums and/or the teams with local taxes/tax breaks) that they cannot view a majority of their local professional sports if they choose satellite tv or are outside a cable service area, like the original poster.

The letter would make an excellent Letter to the Editor of The Inquirer - have you forwarded it to them? Maybe this thread will actually be read by someone with some influence in the process. Anyone else with an interest in this, please chime in...
 

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Legend
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155 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you, everyone, for your comments and encouragement. I just sent copies of this letter to Senators Casey and Specter. I added the following paragraph:

I realize that sports television programming is not a priority issue, but I do believe that if a corporation is going to enjoy the advantages of public support provided in tax breaks and subsidies, access to their products and services should be provided without restriction to all members of the public.

If I do recieve a reply, I will post it here.
 

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Hall Of Fame
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PWenger said:
If I do recieve a reply, I will post it here.
You will get the generic form letter saying, Thanks for your message, they appreciate your concerns and will look into them. Or maybe Spector has a special form letter that explains the benefits of the loophole and you'll get that one.

/sorry for rant
 

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Legend
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155 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
jefbal99 said:
You will get the generic form letter saying, Thanks for your message, they appreciate your concerns and will look into them. Or maybe Spector has a special form letter that explains the benefits of the loophole and you'll get that one.
Wish I could argue that point...but I agree completely.
 
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