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NFL Network Set to Be Cut

September 14, 2006|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

Time Warner Cable has informed its customers that it will be dropping NFL Network on Friday if an agreement cannot be reached. The two entities are in the midst of a bitter dispute, and an agreement appears unlikely.

Time Warner, which serves 14.5 million cable homes nationally and 2 million in greater Los Angeles, wants to put NFL Network on an optional sports tier that would cost customers about $120 a year.

NFL Network wants to be a part of the cable company's basic service, thus reaching more viewers and being able to charge more for advertising.

NFL Network spokesman Seth Palansky said Wednesday that the league-owned network charges cable and satellite distributors fees that amount to only "the price of a movie ticket" per customer a year.

Palansky said he couldn't confirm the exact cost, but it is believed to be about $8.50 per customer a year, or 70 cents a month.

"We're uncomfortable with a cable company using our content to charge NFL fans $120 a year," Palansky said. "As a basic channel, the cost of carrying NFL Network could be recouped through shared advertising and it would not have to be passed along to customers."

According to Time Warner spokesman Keith Cocozza, NFL Network has increased its fees to distributors 250% since adding an eight-game, late-season package of Thursday and Saturday NFL games. The first game is Thanksgiving night.

Time Warner spokeswoman Patti Rockenwagner said if the company drops NFL Network, "Our customers will still be able to watch more than 100 NFL games on NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN, and all in high definition."

Time Warner originally removed NFL Network from its channel lineup Aug. 1, but two days later was ordered by the Federal Communications Commission to restore it for 30 days. Time Warner later agreed to extend that period for 15 more days, and that extension ends Friday.

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