NFL Network, cable companies dispute service

April 15, 2008 2:48:22 PM PDT
Cable companies across the country believe a dispute between them and the NFL Network centers around where the network belongs on your lineup of channels.

"Cable operators have offered to carry the network on a sports tier where only the customers who want to pay for it will be forced to pay for it," Mark Prak, N.C. Cable Association attorney, said. "The NFL would like your help in requiring us to carry it on a basic tier so that every person who subscribes to cable regardless of whether they want to see the NFL Network would have to pay for it."

NFL executives argue more people want the NFL network than many other networks which are on both standard and basic cable.

"Cable believes an 80-year-old grandmother who doesn't want NFL football ought not to be forced to buy it," NFL Senior Vice President Frank Hawkins said. "Let cable start advocating ala carte, which they are fighting tooth and nail in Washington."

Tuesday NFL officials asked state lawmakers to pass a law to settle the deadlock.

"We ask you to put in place a process where you would ask an arbitrator to decide what's the proper place for the NFL Network and for what the proper rate is," Carolina Panthers President Mark Richardson said.

"As a matter of public policy, it's inappropriate for the general assembly to intervene in business negotiations between cable companies and programmers," Prak said. "The market place is perfectly capable of resolving this issue."

Some FCC commissioners wanted to force arbitration to solve the dispute, but so far even that federal agency has declined to take up the matter.

The public hearing at the the state legislature gave both sides a chane to voice their opinions. There is no official legislation filed, and there are no meetings scheduled at this time. However, the chairs say they could meet during the upcoming session.


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