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Cable Firms Throw Illegal Procedure Flag at NFL Network

Posted April 14, 2008
Updated April 15, 2008

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— The NFL Network and cable television operators exchanged shots Tuesday as their national feud went before a state legislative committee.

NFL officials want cable systems to offer their network on standard cable packages so more people can watch the games and highlights the network carries. They said Time Warner Cable and other providers are discriminating against the network in favor of channels owned by the cable companies.

"I don't believe the cable companies are paying attention to what the consumers want," Carolina Panthers President Mark Richardson told members of the Joint Legislative Utility Review Committee. "We're asking for a process – a neutral arbitrator – (to) let someone else decide what's fair."

Without a cable offering, viewers have to get satellite TV to see the games the NFL Network offers, officials said. The Panthers don't play in any of the eight games scheduled to air exclusively on the network next fall, although popular teams like the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers do play in some.

"It's the fans who lose," NFL Senior Vice President Frank Hawkins said.

Cable operators countered that the NFL Network should be part of a sports package that carries a higher monthly price or be offered on a pay-per-view basis. They said viewers should decide whether to pay more for the channel, noting standard cable rates would have to go up if the NFL Network was added to that lineup.

"I just don't believe the government (should be) telling us what kind of programming we should buy. That should be (up to) our customers," said Frank Styers, owner of Red's Cable in Farmville.

The cable operators also said the NFL isn't going through the proper channels to air its grievances. The issue should be presented to the Federal Communications Commission, but the network wants state lawmakers to enforce arbitration on the two sides.

"The fact the NFL Network hasn't gotten everything it wants the way it wants it when it wants it doesn't mean the marketplace is not working," said Mark Prak, of the North Carolina Cable Telecommunications Association.

"I'm reluctant to step in, but we will move if we need to," said state Rep. Drew Saunders, D-Mecklenburg.

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  • FragmentFour Apr 16, 2008

    Honestly, I couldn't care less about who carries the NFL, as long as it doesn't intrude into my TV time.

  • foetine Apr 16, 2008

    It's easy to say that TW is price gouging, but what about when FoxNews went from 25 cents to a buck last year? ESPN charges $3 a month for their channel - and most of that fee goes to paying for their billion dollar plus NFL deal. How much do you think MASN wants to take out of your wallet so you can watch the Nationals and O's flounder in the basement?

    Is cable greedier than the Oil companies? The Gas company? Insurance companies? How about Halliburton? Black Water? The corn industry? The developers tearing apart neighborhoods around here? Greed is what fuels America.

  • imrickjamesbitch Apr 16, 2008

    RTPMedic, the satellite companies aren't griping because they already have NFL Sunday Ticket and you can believe that is a key seller for them.

  • imrickjamesbitch Apr 16, 2008

    It's amazing when you are just a consumer and you don't realize that Direct TV has had the market cornered on NFL Sunday Ticket, for the past 6 years, and that, is ok with consumers. But as soon as the cable company wants to charge for it, or something similar, everyone has something to say about it. There is always a choice; satellite or cable.

  • The Fox Apr 16, 2008

    [Left TWC for DirectTV]+1

  • kenshi Apr 16, 2008

    "Tell the truth, would you rather have the NFL Network as a standard channel or News 14 Carolina or BET or THE GOLF CHANNEL or CSPAN 3 or Bloomberg TV or TV Azteca?"

    News 14.

  • yo eleven Apr 16, 2008

    TWC are Frickin' theives!!!!! They need to get their DVRS working correctly first before they do anything else. I'm on my 4th box!!!!

  • RTPMedic Apr 16, 2008

    "The NFL is not at fault here. Time Warner is the company that wants to charge it's customers for it."

    That is the honest truth here. Why is it that satellite isn't griping? It is a channel that A LOT of cable subscribers want, but TWC wants to charge for it, as if they are not already price-gouging.
    Tell the truth, would you rather have the NFL Network as a standard channel or News 14 Carolina or BET or THE GOLF CHANNEL or CSPAN 3 or Bloomberg TV or TV Azteca?

    Gimme a break!

  • foetine Apr 16, 2008

    Dish network killed Trio. The most entertaining channel on the dial and they killed it. So I'm sorry if I can't jump up and down and declare that Sat. rules.

  • seankelly15 Apr 16, 2008

    JQ Public & TarheelsDontLikeEdwards - You can go back to rabbit ears, but please understand that within 10 months they will no longer work.

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