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NFL Network to File Program-Access Complaint vs. Comcast

NFL Network plans to file a program-access complaint with the Federal Communications Commission against Comcast over the nation's largest cable operator's decision to place the network on a sports tier.

The National Football League’s cable network is required to give Comcast 10 days’ notice of the complaint, which it did Thursday.

"After months of unproductive efforts by network executives to make NFL Network and its popular football programming available on a fair basis to the 24.2 million subscriber homes served by Comcast systems, NFL Network has concluded that it has no choice but to bring a complaint under the Cable Act of 1992, "the network said in a statement announcing the complaint.

Comcast argued that it has the right to place the network in a separate tier, as well as the responsibility to subscribers to give them the ability to opt out of the channel.

"Comcast makes the NFL Network available to all of our customers on a tier of service that the NFL agreed to by contract," senior director of corporate communications and government affairs Sena Fitzmaurice said.

"The NFL has immense power in the marketplace, yet it keeps running to the federal and state governments to try to force changes in the deal it freely accepted in negotiations with Comcast,” she added. “The agreement we have to carry the NFL Network is pro-consumer. It allows us to place this expensive channel on a tier of service for those who wish to pay for it, not on a tier where everyone must pay for it."

The issue of access to sports programming is one the FCC is currently mulling as part of a larger look at program-access rules and the power over programming exercised by vertically integrated cable companies.