Free the Flyers! Close the Comcast Loophole!

The Philadelphia Grassroots Cable Coalition is calling on Philadelphia sports fans to pressure the FCC to close the Comcast loophole. That's the hole in the cable law that allows Comcast to withhold its local sports programming from satellite competitors.

This alert builds on the successful efforts of Free Press, which has generated over 10,000 comments to the FCC. Their comment form addresses both the Comcast-Time Warner-Adelphia merger and the AT&T-Bell South merger, listing six separate issues for the FCC to consider in its deliberations.

Those issues, including net neutrality, open access, naked broadband, and protecting PEG are all important. But we in Philadelphia are disproportionately affected by the Comcast loophole, since our cable company also owns our sports teams (or at least the broadcast rights to the games).

To learn more about the Comcast loophole, read Jeff Gelles's article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Trying to right cable loophole" or his blog. To hear the perspective of a local sports fan, read Welcome to Phillyville, "Comcast is Evil, the Phillies are Stupid and the Eagles are Run by a Bunch of Lucky Morons."

Here's the text of the alert:

Did you ever wonder why you can't watch your favorite Philly sports team on satellite TV? Maybe that's even the reason you're still paying Comcast for your television service.

It's because there's a loophole in the cable law that allows cable companies to withhold from competitors any programming they distribute through wires. They have to share anything they distribute through satellite, so it's called the "terrestrial loophole."

We prefer to call it the Comcast loophole because that's who takes advantage of it. Comcast uses its SportsNet channel as a weapon to hold us hostage to their expensive prices and bad customer service. Did you know that satellite TV has about half the number of subscribers in Philadelphia that it does in other cities?

Finally, there is something you can do about it.

Right now, Comcast is asking the FCC – the federal agency that regulates the television industry – to let it buy up part of the bankrupt Adelphia cable system; Time Warner is buying up the other part. This will turn our local corporate behemoth into a mega-goliath. If you thought it was hard to get a response from your cable company now, the new bigger Comcast will be even more dismissive.

The FCC can place conditions on the Adelphia merger, including the closure of the Comcast loophole to force Comcast to share its Philly sports programming. But they're not going to do it unless we tell them to.

Visit and tell the FCC to set our sports teams free!


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