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NFL Suggests Arbitration in Dispute With Time Warner Cable

Dec 20, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The NFL on Thursday proposed binding arbitration as a way to make the NFL Network available to Time Warner Cable subscribers, but the cable operator didn’t seem to be buying.
In a letter to Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the proposal was designed to “resolve our impasse in a way that will put the interests of our fans, and your customers, first—and do so in time for the Dec. 29 game.”
That game features the New England Patriots against the New York Giants and could cap an undefeated season for the Patriots.
The NFL wants its network carried on a basic digital tier. Time Warner Cable has said it wants to put the NFL Network on a special sports tier. Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, moved the NFL Network from basic to a sports tier this season.
“The objective is to have a neutral third party determine the price and tier for NFL Network distribution on Time Warner systems, based on the fair market value of the NFL Network program service,” Mr. Goodell said.
Politicians, including Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, have urged the two parties to settle their dispute so that his constituents who don’t have satellite TV can see the Patriots game.
However, Mr. Britt dismissed the idea of arbitration.
“We continue to believe that the best way to achieve results is to privately seek a resolution and not attempt to negotiate through the press of elected officials,” Mr. Britt said in a letter to Mr. Goodell.
He noted that Time Warner Cable has already made several offers to carry NFL Network on a premium tier or to make the network’s games available on a pay-per-view basis, with the league receiving 100% of the revenue generated.
“In the interim, we strongly urge you to consider moving the Patriots-Giants game to a broadcast network to ensure the broadest possible distribution of this potentially historic game for fans,” Mr. Britt said, adding that Time Warner Cable was ready to explore the idea of providing the game free to subscribers on a digital channel on a one-time basis.
3:30 p.m.: Updated with TWC response

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