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Cable Group Wants Leeway to Put NFL Network on Tier

Nov 22, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The American Cable Association has called on NFL Network to allow ACA members to run the channel on tiers, allowing individual subscribers to decide whether or not they want to pay for the football network.

NFL Network launches its new schedule of live games Thursday and is seeking a higher license fee from distributors and carriage on analog or digital basic tiers. Some big cable operators, including Time Warner and Cablevision, have not agreed to carry the games on those terms.

In a letter to NFL Network CEO Steve Bornstein, Matthew Polka, president and CEO of the ACA, which represents smaller cable operators with a total of 8 million subscribers, said “if the NFL Network is as popular as you say, then give consumers the choice. If you are right, consumers will pay for it. But rather than giving a choice to our customers, NFL Network is using the market power of NFL television rights to force independent cable companies to distribute the channel to nearly all analog or digital customers.”

Mr. Polka also said the federal government should step in to protect cable customers. Congress held a hearing on the situation last week.

“While the NFL Network games will be carried by a large number of cable companies, we unfortunately are involved in a commercial dispute with specific cable operators who are acting in their own self-interests–not in the interests of our NFL fans,” an NFL Network spokesman said. “We will continue to discuss the matter with those cable operators in the hope that the problem can be resolved.”