Judiciary Eyes Sports Carriage


The lame duck Congress is still trying to stretch its wings, and be an early bird in the process.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing for 9 a.m. Tuesday (standard start time for early hearings is usually 9:30) on "Competition in Sports Programming and Broadcasting: Are Consumers Winning."

Tentative witnesses include Jeffrey Pash, executive VP and general counsel, National Football League; Landell Hobbs, COO, Time Warner; Daniel Fawcett, Executive VP, business and legal affairs and programming acquisition, for DirecTV; and Roger Noll, an economics professor from Stanford.

Time Warner and the NFL Network are currently in a carriage dispute. The FCC stepped in in August to require Time Warner to restore the network on systems it was acquiring from bankrupt Adelphia, but only until Time Warner had given the requisite 30-day notice. Time Warner did, and removed the network in mid September.

Time Warner does not carry the NFL Network, saying it wants to put the network on its digital tier, while the NFL wants to be on the basic tier to boost its potential audience for a new package of NFL games the network is debuting with a Thanksgiving night game.