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Appeals Court Reverses Ruling, Sends Comcast-NFL Net Suit Back to Lower Court

Feb 26, 2008  •  Post A Comment

A New York State appellate court is reversing a ruling that allowed Comcast to move the NFL Network to a premium tier, sending the case back to a lower court for a decision on whether the move was legal.
The NFL sued Comcast on the grounds that the cable provider’s move of the channel last year violated a distribution agreement it signed with Comcast; that deal has one more NFL season to run. The switch to a premium tier meant Comcast subscribers had to pay extra to get the NFL Network and some other sports programming, which has hurt the channel’s rating.
Comcast argued it has the right to move the network to a premium tier to avoid burdening all its customers with the channel’s cost.
A New York Supreme Court judge in May sided with Comcast’s legal arguments. On Tuesday, an appellate court judge reversed that decision and sent the case back, saying the lower court needs to resolve factual disputes about what happened before issuing any ruling.
Both sides today claimed victory.
“We are pleased that the lower court decision was reversed,” said an NFL Network spokesman. “We believe that today’s decision ultimately will lead to the restoration of NFL Network service to the millions of fans who received it before the network was moved to an expensive sports tier.”
Comcast noted the appellate judge rejected the NFL’s request to send the channel back to basic cable.
“We are pleased that the appellate court agreed that Comcast’s main argument is a strong one and denied the NFL’s request to enter judgment in their favor,” said D’Arcy Rudnay, senior VP, corporate communications. “We look forward to pressing ahead with discovery and trial in this case to vindicate our right to carry the NFL Network on a sports tier, which is the fairest and best result for our customers.”

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