NFL Network Files Carriage Complaint against Comcast

As promised, the NFL Network has filed a carriage complaint against Comcast.

The NFL's complaint is essentially two-fold. It told the FCC that the cable operator had discriminated against the channel by putting it on a premium digital sports tier for which customers must pay, while carrying its own sports channels on the more widely viewed analog basic tier that costs no extra.
NFL says Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, also dropped the network from its digital basic tier after the league decided not to sell a package of eight regular season games to Comcast (it decided to keep the games and put them on the NFL Net to make that channel more attractive).

"NFL Network’s television ratings and average viewership exceed those of more widely distributed Comcast-owned national sports networks," said the channel in a statement announcing the filing. "This discriminatory treatment of NFL Network is a violation of the 1992 Cable Act.

A Comcast spokesperson had not returned a call at press time, but when the NFL informed Comcast of the planned filing, Comcast's senior director of corporate communications and government affairs, Sena Fitzmaurice, said, "Comcast makes the NFL Network available to all of our customers on a tier of service that the NFL agreed to by contract."

"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."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.