Never say never. Just ask Andy Murray.
After years of frustration, the Scottish tennis sensation (… and occasional rap artist!) broke through in July to become the first man from the UK in 77 years to win Wimbledon, arguably tennis’ grandest stage.
In smashingly similar fashion, the Tennis Channel, coming off a disappointing defeat in the D.C. Circuit, is now seeking a major comeback on the grandest judicial stage: the Supreme Court of the United States.
As explored in those articles, the match between Tennis Channel and Comcast dates back to Tennis Channel’s 2010 claim that Comcast violated Section 616 of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. § 536, by not positioning Tennis Channel on the same programming tier as the Comcast-affiliated Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network (formerly, Versus). While the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), by way of a 3-2 vote, found on July 16, 2012 that Comcast discriminated against Tennis Channel by not distributing its video programming more broadly to subscribers, the D.C. Circuit returned serve on May 28, 2013, and granted Comcast’s petition to review the FCC’s ruling. In doing so, the Court of Appeals stayed the FCC’s ruling, which required Comcast to carry the Tennis Channel on the same distribution tier as Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network, as well as pay a $375,000 fine.
When we left off this summer, Tennis Channel had just requested a player challenge of the line judge’s “out” call and petitioned the Court of Appeals for en banc review of the decision. On September 4, 2013, however, the Court of Appeals pushed Tennis Channel to match point when, in a per curium opinion, it denied Tennis Channel’s petition.
Now, down two breaks, Tennis Channel is ready to take one final swing at its claim. On December 3, 2013, it filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a statement, Tennis Channel explained that it seeks Supreme Court review “because the lower court strayed from longstanding federal discrimination law to invent an arbitrary and unfair standard for deciding cable carriage complaints.”
When Andy Murray was down 4-6, 3-6 after two sets of his 2013 Wimbledon Quarterfinal match against Fernando Verdasco, many assumed that this would be just another disappointing showing for “Muzzard” at the All England Club. However, after bouncing back 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 in the final sets against Verdasco, Murrary would lose only one more set the rest of the tournament en route to his historic victory. While Tennis Channel’s claims remain tenuous, only time will tell if it, like Murray, can overcome the odds on the ultimate stage.
Stay tuned for the all-important fourth Three Point Shot article about the outcome, where we will dare to complete the Grand Slam á la Rod Laver and Steffi Graf.