Comcast gets the last word from FCC against Word Network

Reverend 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 Center in January 2017.

The rent-by-the-hour religious Word Network got the word on its complaint against Comcast Corp. — dismissed.

Comcast did not unfairly punish, or violate the government’s conditions on its deal for NBCUniversal, when it dropped the Word from about 7 million homes on Comcast cable systems in early 2017. The Word leases airtime to preachers, both white and black, for sermonizing and to raise funds.

The Word, based in Southfield, Mich., also claimed in its FCC filing that Comcast had sought exclusive rights to its digital content in a carriage agreement. But the FCC said there was no evidence that Comcast asked for this exclusivity.

The FCC made a partial decision in Comcast’s favor in late 2017 and now has dismissed the remainder of the Word’s complaint.

The Word could not be immediately reached for comment. Comcast said it believed the complaint was frivolous and was pleased by the FCC’s decision, a spokeswoman said.

In early 2017, Comcast replaced the Word with the Impact Network, another African American religious network, whose preacher, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, of Great Faith Ministries in Detroit, was close to then-candidate Donald Trump. Comcast and Jackson said that politics did not play a part in the decision to replace the Word with Impact.

“This didn’t just start with Donald Trump coming to my church. It’s just a coincidence of all these events,” Jackson told the Inquirer in early 2017.

Hundreds of Word supporters traveled to Philadelphia from the Detroit area to protest Comcast’s action. The Word is still available on some Comcast systems.