Comcast wins FCC decision in case brought by black religious channel Word Network

The Rev. W. J. Rideout III, pastor of All Gods People Church from Detroit, uses the bullhorn to spur his congregation to chant in front of the Comcast building last January. Members of the All Gods People Church from Detroit protested outside the Comcast Center in the hopes of having Comcast not drop the Word Network from its lineup.

Comcast Corp. didn’t do anything wrong when it kicked the Word Network off seven million cable-TV homes in early 2017, a federal regulatory agency says.

The Word Network, a Detroit-based African American religious network that charges preachers for airtime, claimed in a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission that Comcast had discriminated against its programming by cutting the number of homes that could see the network’s preaching shows to five million from 12 million homes.

The Word also said that Comcast improperly sought exclusive rights to the Word Network’s digital content, which it alleged violated the terms of an agreement that Comcast signed with the FCC when it acquired NBCUniversal.

In an Oct. 27 decision, the head of the FCC’s media bureau, Michelle M. Carey, disagreed with the Word Network, saying that the network failed to make a case for its claims.

Officials from the Word Network could not be reached for comment.

Comcast said it had no comment.

In justifying its action, Comcast told the FCC that the cable channel isn’t owned by African Americans and that the company replaced it with an African American-owned religious channel, the Impact Network, with similar preaching shows.

Hundreds of people bused from Detroit protested outside the Comcast Center in  Philadelphia over the company’s decision to curtail distribution of the Word Network.