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Cable vs. NFL Network dispute reaches Texas Capitol
Houston Chronicle/AP ^ | 11-6-07

Posted on 11/06/2007 9:02:23 AM PST by Snickering Hound

AUSTIN — Cable companies and the NFL Network are competing for Texas lawmakers' support in their national fight over whether cable customers should be charged extra for the football channel.

While some cable companies have agreed to carry the network's eight regular-season games, Time Warner Cable, the largest in Texas, has not come to terms with the network.

Pressure has been mounting on all parties as the Dallas Cowboys' Nov. 29 matchup with the Green Bay Packers approaches. The game will only be shown on the NFL Network.

"I've had a lot more people contact me about NFL football the last two months instead of child protective services, windstorm insurance or worker's compensation, which are frankly more important issues," said Rep. Corbin Van Arsdale, R-Tomball. "I don't control what constituents call me about."

The NFL Network wants to be placed on digital basic cable with all customers paying about 60 to 70 cents a month for it. Time Warner wants to offer the network on a surcharged sports tier available to subscribers who pay extra for it.

The network has rejected Time Warner's offer to let the network charge a fee for the games that would be passed on to customers.

Van Arsdale and Sen. Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth, said last week that they would consider introducing consumer-oriented legislation in the 2009 session if the two sides don't reach an agreement.

"Cable companies need to focus on giving their customers what they want, which is football," Brimer said.

Both sides have deployed lobbyists to make their case to legislators.

The network distributed an informational packet to lawmakers last month. Cable companies responded by blitzing legislators with their side.

Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Tom Craddick, all Republicans, have expressed hopes that the businesses can settle the dispute without government involvement.

Five Democratic members of the Texas House from Bexar County have sent letters to the Federal Communication Commission asking it to intercede in the argument.

Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, carried telecommunications deregulation into law in 2005. He said he would consider proposals to address the issue if it hasn't been resolved by the time the Legislature meets again in 2009.

"This could be a very, very big issue, not so much because it's the NFL Network (but) because it deals with what role the government plays in the content of telecommunications," King said.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: nfl; satellitetv

1 posted on 11/06/2007 9:02:23 AM PST by Snickering Hound
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To: Snickering Hound

Why is any legislature involved in this?

I am a football fan, but if I want the product, I have to pay for it. If it’s extra for NFL network, that’s fine, the choice is mine. The Big Ten network carries games I want to see, but don’t want to pay extra for watching. So, I find something else to do. Same with NFL network. Eventually, they’ll find that their fan base erodes as people discover a walk in the woods is more fun than watching a football game. But I digress.

No one has a “right” to watch games. It’s free market, let it sort itself out.


2 posted on 11/06/2007 9:08:47 AM PST by brownsfan (America has "jumped the shark")
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To: brownsfan

The plan is to move all games to the NFL network and dump the networks, watch and see.


3 posted on 11/06/2007 9:30:51 AM PST by Resolute Conservative
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To: Snickering Hound

On the other hand, does a cable franchise that essentially has a TV monopoly in their purchased area, have the right to include it in basic service AND make everyone who wants any cable pay the extra 70 cents a month for it?

Isn’t that the issue? I do not believe that any franchise areas can overlap and this gives the company a cable monopoly. We all know that our beloved govt takes a payback fee for the franchise arrangement.


4 posted on 11/06/2007 9:32:39 AM PST by George from New England
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To: brownsfan
... if I want the product, I have to pay for it. If it’s extra for NFL network, that’s fine, the choice is mine.

The issue, I'm assuming, is that the NFL Network only gets that "base" amount of 60-70 cents (maybe even less depending how much the cable company takes of that), while it's the cable company that gets the "premium fees" (which in my area is like $5-10). So, in effect, the NFL Network is getting "robbed" of money that really they are responsible for generating.

Now, again, I'm assuming this is the issue (maybe someone more knowledgeable can comment), because if what I described above is not the case, then I can't understand what the fight would be about.

Tangentially, if the NFL Network was too stupid to not spell this out in writing before agreeing to be on cable, then I don't have much mercy for them. IOW, if they knew full well that the cable company *might* charge extra for their channel, but didn't specify in writing that this would not be allowed (unless they got a cut), and counted on people getting angry about the increase, then they underestimated the apathy of the typical consumer.

5 posted on 11/06/2007 9:39:40 AM PST by FourtySeven (47)
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To: George from New England

being a Packer fan in Florida, it looks like I will be watching this one in the bar...


6 posted on 11/06/2007 9:40:34 AM PST by stefanbatory
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To: stefanbatory

Brett Favre with those last-second bombs are killing opponents . The Old Man still has it!


7 posted on 11/06/2007 9:45:10 AM PST by Extremely Extreme Extremist
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To: Snickering Hound; All

Comcast gets to put the NFL network on its Digital sports Tier

Time Warner wants the same deal and the NFL will not give them that deal, NFL want sTime Warner to put the channel on its Expanded Basic Tier.

Seems to me someone at TWC ticked off someone at the NFL so Time Warner doesn’t get the same deal that Comcast and SeeBridge are getting in Texas.


8 posted on 11/06/2007 9:45:35 AM PST by Rightly Biased (Courage is not the lack of fear it is acting in spite of it<><)
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To: Resolute Conservative

No, that’s not even close to the plan. The NFL makes nearly 4 billion a year on the TV contracts there’s no possible way they could make up that loss with anything that moved the games to their own network. The plan was to make another TV contract but nobody was willing to pay what the league wanted, so they put the games on their own network to help them gain leverage with the cable companies in their efforts to get NFLN out of the digital cable wasteland and into at least extended basic and maybe even regular basic.


9 posted on 11/06/2007 9:49:35 AM PST by discostu (a mountain is something you don't want to %^&* with)
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To: FourtySeven
The issue, I'm assuming, is that the NFL Network only gets that "base" amount of 60-70 cents

The issue is that the NFL Network carries 8 live games year. The other 357 or 358 days are filled with endless reruns of dreck, slop, cheerleader auditions, and the 1964 AFL Follies blooper reel (which I actually watched). The cable companies don't want to charge every customer 60-70 cents a month all year along so that fotball fans can watch 8 games a year.

The cable companies have to either cut their profit, or raise their rates, which is always oh so popular. If the NFL would give away the network, and make money off its ad revenue, I'm sure something could be worked out. In San Antonio, Time Warner has said that they will bump some other channel and broadcast the 8 live games, but the NFL, while crying that it wants fans to see the games, insists that cable companies carry the NFL network 24/7 all year long.

There is no hero in this standoff, but the NFL is the party that is trying to use political pressure to intimidate cable companies into carrying a channel that the cable companies believe they will lose money on.

10 posted on 11/06/2007 9:58:22 AM PST by Pilsner
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To: Snickering Hound
The NFL channel has the Pats/Giants game the last week of the season. Just imagine the outcry if this is the game that would give the Pats their perfect season.
11 posted on 11/06/2007 10:01:15 AM PST by Sybeck1 (Join me for the Million Minutemen March --- Summer 2008!!)
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To: Snickering Hound

As a monopoly the NFL should be required to air all games via standard airwaves.


12 posted on 11/06/2007 10:14:18 AM PST by A_Tradition_Continues (THE NEXT GENERATION CONSERVATIVE)
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To: Pilsner

I’m a Time Warner Cable employee and what you’ve said is essentially correct. Of course, whether government should involve itself in this is a whole different subject. I don’t think it has any role at all in this.

IMO, NFL Network (NFLN) set a precedent with their cable agreements with other systems. If the digital tier is good enough for the NFLN to be carried on Comcast, why is it not good enough for Time Warner? It’s because the NFLN wants to force their way onto basic tier with Time Warner and *then* come back to Comcast and demand basic coverage there too.

NFLN wants advertisers - which is going to be diminished if the channel is on a digital tier. They’re using a handful of NFL games to try to pressure carriage for something they wouldn’t otherwise get. Other than the eight games and a pair of bowl games, NFLN is analysis, films of old games and replays of the past week’s games. Yes, there’s a market for that but I don’t think it rises to the level of basic tier carriage.


13 posted on 11/06/2007 10:20:20 AM PST by Tall_Texan (No Third Term For Bill Clinton!)
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To: brownsfan

Except it isn’t a free market. Cable companies have a monopoly, and it stinks. The cozy relationship between cable companies and local governments must end, so we have real choice in cable TV.

Cox Cable has all these ads saying how wonderful they are for giving money to local schools (which like all business “charity” is really paid for by customers), while they enjoy their government protection from competition. Sounds like a sneaky way to tax people extra for public schools to me.

I hate the dang cable companies! If it weren’t for the problems with satellite (losing the picture when it rains heavily, etc.), we would switch.


14 posted on 11/06/2007 10:23:42 AM PST by Pining_4_TX
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To: Snickering Hound
All of the professional sports are leveraged to the hilt. Every team needs to be a "winner" so that they get maximum attendance and viewership, then they can pay their free-agents the maximum allowable under the leagues' "salary cap" (wink,wink). After a couple of "winning" years the team owner can demand a new arena be financed by the local taxpayers, or they threaten to move the team.

If a given team is not a winner, well that's the fault of the local area being a "small market" location. I'd guess that 50% of all pro sports articles are coverage of contracts, arena deals and crime blotter/drug abuse.

And "Free Agency"? What a joke. Teams aren't loyal to the player and players aren't loyal to teams. When the Orlando Magic and the NBA allowed Shaq to leave the team and they got nothing for it, not a draft pick, not cash, not another player, that was it for me and pro sports. If that is how they want to run their business, fine. But I don't have to watch it anymore and I don't. I was a season ticket holder for nine years, with 4 seats. At least in the NFL it's mandated that teams are compensated.

Don't get me started on that loser Grant Hill.

15 posted on 11/06/2007 10:28:20 AM PST by subterfuge (HILLARY IS: She who must not be Dismayed)
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To: Pilsner
The issue is that the NFL Network carries 8 live games year. The other 357 or 358 days are filled with endless reruns of dreck, slop, cheerleader auditions, and the 1964 AFL Follies blooper reel (which I actually watched). The cable companies don't want to charge every customer 60-70 cents a month all year along so that fotball fans can watch 8 games a year.

The cable companies have to either cut their profit, or raise their rates, which is always oh so popular. If the NFL would give away the network, and make money off its ad revenue, I'm sure something could be worked out. In San Antonio, Time Warner has said that they will bump some other channel and broadcast the 8 live games, but the NFL, while crying that it wants fans to see the games, insists that cable companies carry the NFL network 24/7 all year long.

There is no hero in this standoff, but the NFL is the party that is trying to use political pressure to intimidate cable companies into carrying a channel that the cable companies believe they will lose money on.


16 posted on 11/06/2007 10:30:31 AM PST by Niteranger68 (I only post pictures.)
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To: brownsfan
No one has a “right” to watch games.

You obviously haven't read the new US Constitution that a bunch of nine-year-olds recently wrote.

17 posted on 11/06/2007 10:34:42 AM PST by HIDEK6
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To: Resolute Conservative

“The plan is to move all games to the NFL network and dump the networks, watch and see.”

Works for me. If I want it enough, I’ll buy it. If not, I won’t.


18 posted on 11/06/2007 10:40:57 AM PST by brownsfan (America has "jumped the shark")
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To: Pining_4_TX

“I hate the dang cable companies! If it weren’t for the problems with satellite (losing the picture when it rains heavily, etc.), we would switch.”

Cable companies are exploiting how America works. Grease the right politicians, and anti competitive behavior is ignored. I know of a few localities that have started their own cable company. It’s expensive for a city to do that, and we all know, government is not efficient.

There will only be competition in the cable market when voters demand it, not a day before then.


19 posted on 11/06/2007 10:46:47 AM PST by brownsfan (America has "jumped the shark")
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To: subterfuge

The NBA, what is that? We’re talking the NFL here.

Hey, I understand completely how you feel. When Jerry Buss decided to keep Kobe “the rapist” over Shaq, that was it for me and the Lakers. Haven’t watched a single game since. And I am fairly certain that the Lakers haven’t won anything since, but Shaq has.

Buss must have been living in a closet (which he and Al Davis need to get out of) when he made that decision. Lets see, keep the guy whose won titles everywhere he’s gone or keep the young superstar whom NO ONE on your current team can stand. Not a single Laker defended Kobe on the rape charge. It was like they all knew he did it or was capable of doing it. It was surreal.


20 posted on 11/06/2007 10:54:54 AM PST by Diplomat
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To: Diplomat

Ha! Good points.

Sorry for the off-topic. I think Buss is finding out that Kobe has the talent of Michael Jordan, but the ego of Rickey Henderson.


21 posted on 11/06/2007 11:00:50 AM PST by subterfuge (HILLARY IS: She who must not be Dismayed)
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To: subterfuge
..Kobe has the talent of Michael Jordan, but the ego of Rickey Henderson

Great quote, you should add "and the likability of Barry Bonds."

22 posted on 11/06/2007 11:03:19 AM PST by Diplomat
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To: brownsfan

I agree with some of that, but here’s a question.

I don’t subscribe to any sports packages — what do they do during timeouts and such where the networks place commercials? I mean, I would be highly pissed to have to pay to watch whatever games and ALSO be forced to watch commercials.


23 posted on 11/06/2007 11:04:08 AM PST by Lee'sGhost (Crom! Non-Sequitur = Pee Wee Herman.)
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To: Lee'sGhost

“I mean, I would be highly pissed to have to pay to watch whatever games and ALSO be forced to watch commercials.”

Agreed. But, it is still your option. Don’t like it, don’t buy it. They show commercials at movies now, and put commercials on DVDs. These are not essential items, so it’s either take it as they sell it, or don’t buy.


24 posted on 11/06/2007 11:07:41 AM PST by brownsfan (America has "jumped the shark")
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To: brownsfan

Thanks. But you didn’t answer my question. What do they show?


25 posted on 11/06/2007 11:11:02 AM PST by Lee'sGhost (Crom! Non-Sequitur = Pee Wee Herman.)
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To: Pining_4_TX
I hate the dang cable companies! If it weren’t for the problems with satellite (losing the picture when it rains heavily, etc.), we would switch.

Even here in the Houston area, where we've had PLENTY rainstorms and thunderstorms over the past year, I can only remember a couple times in the past year when my DirecTV feed lost signal. Even then it was only for 10-20 minutes.

Now if they would be so kind as to start using TiVo software again on their DVRs...SIGH.

MM (in TX)

26 posted on 11/06/2007 11:17:22 AM PST by MississippiMan (Behold now behemoth...he moves his tail like a cedar. Job 40:17)
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To: Lee'sGhost

“Thanks. But you didn’t answer my question. What do they show?”

Oh, sorry. :)

I have no clue, I’m too cheap to buy that junk.
Sorry if I misled you. I don’t buy cable premiums. If the Buckeyes or Browns are on TV, I watch, if not, I go do something else.


27 posted on 11/06/2007 11:19:31 AM PST by brownsfan (America has "jumped the shark")
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To: Lee'sGhost

Every Tuesday/Wednesday the NFLNetwork will show 5 of the prior weekends games with all the breaks cut out entirely. I.e. you’ll see a game in an hour or so.

They also show a lot of old games and historical games. They run in-deapth shows on teams from the past and recent past. They’ll cover team X’s entire last season. They’ll do a show on Superbowl 35s winner and it’s season leading up to the win.

They also do cheerleader tryouts in the off season. They cover the draft entirely. They also have a lot of offseason shows pertaining to the upcoming draft.

They also do fantasy NFl shows to. I’m not sure what channel I saw it on, but I watched a show on the Madden08 USA tourneyment where the best gamers get teamed with a pro player from the team they represent; and then the gamers face off in elimination type games of Madden08.

They do shows like ESPN-like shows dealing strictly with the NFL. Some shows will cover college ball too, I think. They have a lot of commentary and post game type shows.


28 posted on 11/06/2007 11:34:55 AM PST by Diplomat
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To: Lee'sGhost

By and large they show commercials. Basically when you get one of the “ticket” packages you’re just getting access to the “local” broadcasts of the rest of the league. With something like the NFL where those broadcasts are controlled by national networks you’ll get all the national commercials plus the “local” for whatever cities broadcast your watching. For everybody else you’re feeding from pure local feeds so you’ll get pure local commercials. It’s a lot like the old days of “super channels” on cable, living in Tucson I’d turn on WGN and get Chicago commercials. Of course NFL’s Sunday Ticket also includes other additional broadcasts like hilights on demand, given that they have a small number of games happening in small windows broadcast by few providers they have a lot more control over the situation.


29 posted on 11/06/2007 12:03:26 PM PST by discostu (a mountain is something you don't want to %^&* with)
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To: Diplomat
Great quote, you should add "and the likability of Barry Bonds."

Nice. Believe it or not, Barry did come to mind but I didn't think of the "likability" part of it. Thanks.

30 posted on 11/06/2007 12:14:43 PM PST by subterfuge (HILLARY IS: She who must not be Dismayed)
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To: brownsfan

Our Charter Communications Cable is having the same fight with the NFL network....so we don’t get the NFL network anymore....we would gladly pay 60 to 70 cents per month to get the NFL network.....we have to see the Green Bay Packers play Dallas.....Go Packers. So it will be a sports bar for us too.


31 posted on 11/06/2007 12:23:48 PM PST by Auntie Toots (The GOP is still the best we've got.....AND THAT USED TO BE THE TRUTH)
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To: Snickering Hound

I have DISH and get the NFL channel, but I don’t get the NY Yankee channel YES network, maybe I should sue.

SOLUTION: offer ALL channels ala cart


32 posted on 11/06/2007 12:27:20 PM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: 1Old Pro

Never gonna happen, and this conflict is why. The NFL, like most other cable networks, wants to be able to make money even if people aren’t watching, even on people that will never watch their channel. As long as the majority of networks charge based on subscribers in the tier cable companies will never offer ala cart, and as long as there’s an ESPN there will be networks charging by subscriber count.


33 posted on 11/06/2007 12:54:27 PM PST by discostu (a mountain is something you don't want to %^&* with)
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To: discostu
The Big Ten Network and Comcast are battling it out here over the same issue. Comcast is taking out full-page ads saying how they are fighting for the consumer by only wanting to offer BTN on a sports package. Let people who want it pay for it, without making other people pay for a channel they don't want.

That's a great argument, except Comcast has best beware that they don't stir up that exact same sentiment about every single channel they carry. They are just asking for it.

I would love to get a Comcast exec on and ask him why the same philosophy shouldn't apply to people who don't want MTV or A&E.

34 posted on 11/06/2007 1:07:53 PM PST by SoothingDave
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To: SoothingDave

A few years ago there was a battle between the big cable companies and ESPN over ESPN’s latest rate hike. Same kind of thing you’re seeing, the cable company was sending out form letter e-mails you could forward to ESPN, ESPN had a chunk of their webpage you could use to send a message to your cable provider, I sent mine the message “don’t mess with the mouse” which was the first rule of the entertainment industry in the 80s and it’s even more true now. ESPN won, in fact I think they even spiked their rates higher as a lesson. I think it spawned some of these battles, the cable companies really got embarrassed by a sports channel and now they’re just trying to win against any sports channel just to prove sports doesn’t rule cable. Of course they’re wrong, sports does rule cable, and has for a long time.


35 posted on 11/06/2007 1:16:05 PM PST by discostu (a mountain is something you don't want to %^&* with)
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist

yep...he taught his son Vinny testaverde everything he knows...


36 posted on 11/06/2007 3:32:32 PM PST by stefanbatory
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To: All

The NFL network also has two college bowls on its schedule:

Texas Bowl
Dec. 28 / 8 p.m. NFL Network
Tie-Ins: Houston, Texas
Big 12 vs. C-USA
Projection: Houston vs. New Mexico (7-win Lobos will knock out a 6-win Big 12)

Insight Bowl
Dec. 31 / TBA Tempe, Ariz. NFL Network
Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 6 vs. Big 12 No. 6
Projection: Indiana vs. Oklahoma State*


37 posted on 11/23/2007 5:21:59 PM PST by Sybeck1 (Join me for the Million Minutemen March --- Summer 2008!!)
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To: A_Tradition_Continues

The NFL network games are run over the air in the teams’ home markets. The game will be on in the Dallas area, Green Bay and Milwaukee.

One commentator said the Dallas/Green Bay game will be the best game ever televised to 20 people.


38 posted on 11/23/2007 5:31:52 PM PST by MediaMole
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To: Resolute Conservative

Nope, not gonna happen, not the goal, and it’s all obvious. There is simply no way the NFL network could haul in the 1 billion dollars a year they get from the contracts. And there’s nobody there stupid enough to think they might.


39 posted on 11/23/2007 5:36:09 PM PST by discostu (a mountain is something you don't want to %^&* with)
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