Comcast Flags NFL Network for Interference
Cable Operator Urges National Football League to ‘Cease and Desist’ Coaxing Subscribers to Drop Service
By Jon Hemingway -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/21/2007 10:27:00 AM
Comcast is calling NFL Network for interference of the tortuous variety. In a “cease-and-desist” letter dated Nov. 19, the cable operator demanded that the sports network stop inciting Comcast subscribers to switch providers.
The National Football League has been running a campaign against Comcast due to the cable operator’s insistence of keeping NFL Network on its premium-sports tier. The NFL wants the network to be carried on the basic tier, which would increase its viewer base. Comcast said it doesn’t want its total subscriber base to incur the charge of carrying the network.
In response, NFL Network launched a Web site that singles out cable operators such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems as denying access to the network and coaxes people to switch their service to those that carry it at no extra charge, including satellite-TV providers DirecTV and EchoStar Communications’ Dish Network, as well as Verizon Communications’ FiOS TV and AT&T’s U-verse TV.
“The actions by [NFL Network] and its representatives to deny Comcast the benefits of exercising its contractual rights constitute a material violation of the network’s contractual obligations,” Comcast executive vice president of content acquisition Matt Bond stated in the letter.
The letter called on the network to stop encouraging Comcast subscribers to cancel their service as of Friday, Nov. 23. Comcast is also reserving the right to seek relief for damages already incurred as a result of the online campaign.
The network sued Comcast for putting it on the sports tier, but in May, the courts ruled in favor of the cable company.
The basis of the suit was that Comcast agreed to keep the network on a basic tier when it was negotiating with the NFL to get a package of football games aired on its Versus network. Instead, the NFL kept the games and put them on NFL Network, which Comcast promptly placed in its sports package.
The NFL claimed that because the games were on NFL Network, which was carried by Comcast, then Comcast actually did get the games and was bound by the contract to carry them on the basic tier.
Representatives of the NFL were not available for comment.
Cowboy fans fall victim to Jones and his merry misers
Amarillo Globe-News, Opinion, 11/22/2007
By C. Bruce Deramus
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is at it again, trying to fatten his own wallet by reaching into the pockets of us common folk. More unfortunately, some of our elected officials are trying to help him.
Jones is heading up the NFL Network Committee, serving as the loud and strident voice of the network as it negotiates to be carried by cable systems in Texas and across the country. According to Jones, fans will suffer if cable operators don't put the NFL Network on their basic tier instead of the premium sports tier, as they have proposed.
Instead, fan and non-fan alike will suffer by losing more of their hard-earned money if Jones and the NFL Network prevail.
The NFL Network wants to charge cable operators hundreds of millions of dollars for only eight games of the more than 250 being played all season. While the NFL Network wants all cable customers - fan or not - to pick up this cost, cable operators rightly argue that only those who actually want to watch the games should pay for them.
Now Sen. Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth, has gotten involved, threatening legislation against the cable companies if they don't bend to the NFL Network's wishes.
Jones is the perfect choice as the spokesperson for corporate greed. Those in the Dallas/Fort Worth area will recall that Concerned Taxpayers of Arlington and others fought the "Jones Tax" when the Cowboys owner unveiled his plan to use public funds, through a variety of consumer taxes, to pay for about a third of his new stadium.
Jones spent millions wooing city leaders and voters to get his way. As a result, Arlington residents and visitors are paying higher sales, car rental and hotel taxes. While we pay, Jones already is reaping the benefits - the new stadium has made the Dallas Cowboys organization the most valuable sports franchise in the world, worth $1.5 billion, according to the September issue of Forbes magazine.
Attending a game already is too expensive for many working families. Now fans are going to find it more difficult to catch a game on television, especially if their budgets do not allow them to subscribe to cable or satellite.
Here's an example of how the NFL Network's plan would deny fans of the Dallas Cowboys, who play in two of the eight games set on the network. Anyone with access to the NFL Network would get the game, and fans in the Metroplex could still pick it up for free on a local broadcast station (subject to local blackout rules).
But fans in San Antonio, the Valley, El Paso, Austin and elsewhere in Texas no longer would be able to turn on their televisions and catch the game on a local station. That means the real losers in this deal are the more than 1 million Texans who watch TV with an antenna, either by choice or economic necessity.
Jones and his NFL Network are like a reverse Robin Hood - they are robbing from the poor to benefit the rich; in this case, wealthy NFL team owners.
Instead of continuing to work out a deal at the negotiating table, Jones and the NFL are calling on city council members and state legislators from across the state - and even the governor - to put the squeeze on Time Warner and other cable companies to bend to the will of the NFL Network.
Wisely, most of the officials we elected - Brimer being an exception - seem to recognize there are more pressing needs facing our state, and that there are Texans more in need of their assistance than billionaire Jerry Jones.
C. Bruce Deramus is chairman of Concerned Taxpayers of Arlington, www.concernedtaxpayersofarlington.com.
Jeff Cook - 11/23/2007 11:59:00 AM EST
Comcast is the worst company I have ever done business with. Every service they offer is so overpriced its pathetic. As soon as Verizon gets their cable operation going in my area I will be getting rid of comcast for good. Just doing buisiness with someone else is a positive.
Bryan Shelton - 11/22/2007 11:27:00 AM EST
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