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A tale of two networks and one chairman

March 16, 2010 |  2:55 pm

The Tennis Channel is no fan of Comcast Corp. But the Ovation network likes Comcast. Interestingly, both cable channels have the same chairman -- Ken Solomon.

SOLOMON No, Solomon doesn't have a split personality. He just happens to be chairman of two cable channels that seem to have very different perceptions of the nation's biggest cable operator. While Tennis Channel is at war with the cable giant and complained to the Federal Communications Commission that Comcast favors its own channels over those from outside suppliers, Ovation has nothing but nice things to say about the company.

In a letter to Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and ranking Republican member Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), the chief executive of Ovation said Comcast has been key to the arts network's growth. "Comcast has been an outstanding distributor of our unique programming," Charles Segars wrote, adding the cable behemoth has "a strong record of launching viable, independent channels" and has been a "fair partner."

That's quite the contrast from what Tennis Channel said about Comcast earlier this year. In a filing at the FCC, Comcast was accused by Tennis Channel of causing "specific and concrete harm to its ability to compete for viewers, advertisers and the rights to cablecast tennis events."

Comcast has countered that the Tennis Channel doesn't like its current distribution deal and is trying to negotiate a new one before the old one expires. Its gripe to the FCC are "without merit" and need to be "denied and dismissed."

In fairness to Solomon, he is non-executive chairman of Ovation while he is executive chairman of Tennis Channel. Still, hope he has enough hooks in his closet for all his various hats.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Ken Solomon. Credit: Fred Mullane