Cablevision, NFL Continue Skirmish


Cablevision and the National Football League once again have failed to come to terms on a way to allow Cablevision customers in the New York area to see a free preview of the NFL Network that would include a Rutgers University post-season football game.

While Time Warner Cable (TWC) and the NFL came to an arrangement earlier this week that will see TWC put the Dec. 28 game on a digital basic tier as part of the Dec. 24-30 free preview, Cablevision and the NFL have yet to come to strike a deal.

On Wednesday, Cablevision COO Thomas Rutledge pressed the NFL via letter to put the game on a broadcast station. Rutledge also offered to put the game on broadcast basic, available to Cablevision’s 3 million subscribers in the area.

"We are very disappointed that Cablevision and the Dolan family have turned down [sic] same free offer that we agreed to with Time Warner and other cable companies," said the NFL in a statement Wednesday. "It is very unfortunate that Cablevision customers in New Jersey and New York will not see the Rutgers Bowl appearance and the NFL Network. Time Warner, Comcast and all satellite dish viewers in the area will be able to enjoy the game."

Cablevision spokesman Jim Maiella, who points out that Cablevision never received an offer similar to the one TWC accepted, said in a statement: "Dealing with the NFL Network is beginning to feel like dealing with Lucy and the football. We haven't turned down anything. What part of 'yes, we will carry the Rutgers game to 100 percent of our customers,' do they not understand?"

The negotiations have caught the eye of politicians, including New Jersey Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo, who issued a statement Wednesday saying he may request legislative hearings into Cablevision’s "habitual anti-New Jersey sports-fan business decisions."

"It’s well past time that someone threw a penalty flag at Cablevision for continuous unsportsmanlike conduct," said Caraballo in the statement. "Cablevision’s subscribers have had to put up time and again with the company’s unwillingness to do what’s best for paying viewers. If Cablevision cannot explain this behavior to its ratepayers, perhaps they should explain it to the Legislature."