Comcast lawyers say that the government cannot tell the cable-TV giant how to distribute entertainment content to its subscribers and that the Tennis Channel would add costs to subscriber monthly bills.
Tennis Channel is seen in about 35 million U.S. homes, many of them satellite-TV providers that own part of the channel. The Golf Channel is distributed to most of Comcast's 21.6 million cable-TV subscribers. Tennis Channel is available to about three million Comcast viewers who pay the fee, according to previous reports.
"The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has spoken emphatically and unanimously that Comcast did not discriminate against the Tennis Channel. We are confident that this ruling will continue to be upheld," Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said in a statement.
The issue seemed resolved at the Federal Communications Commission in July 2012 when the regulatory agency ruled in Tennis Channel's favor. The commission said Tennis Channel should be distributed to as many homes as Golf Channel, so that it was being treated equally.
But the Washington appeals court unanimously overturned the FCC's decision in Comcast's favor, saying the FCC overstepped its authority. The appeals court declined to reconsider the three-judge decision, thus the petition to the Supreme Court.
"The court's decision not only failed to recognize where that responsibility lies, but also rewrote a vital portion of Congress' 1992 Cable Act and federal discrimination law," Tennis Channel spokesman Eric Abner said in a statement.
BY THE NUMBERS
Comcast cable-TV subscribers who currently get Tennis Channel.
Extra cost per month that those subscribers pay
to get Tennis Channel.
Approximate number of Comcast cable-TV subscribers, most of whom get Golf Channel.
Cost to those subscribers to get Golf Channel.