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TW Settles With FCC Over NFL Notification

The FCC and Time Warner have settled the issue of whether Time Warner did not give the requisite notice to cable subs before pulling the NFL Network from systems it had acquired in the Adelphia takeover.

In a consent decree filed Oct. 5, Time Warner agreed it had not given the 30-days notice required by the FCC before pulling the network Aug. 1, and the FCC agreed not to fine or otherwise punish the company for that violation.

The issue was mooted quickly--the network was only off for two days--when the FCC in early August said Time Warner had not provided sufficient notice and required it immediately to reinstate the network while it tried to negotiate a carriage deal. The commission concluded that not to do so could cause NFL Net serious harm.

But the FCC could have still fined Time Warner over the failure to notify, and Time Warner could have taken the FCC to court over its actions to reinstate the network, neither of which will now happen.

Time Warner began giving notice in August and pulled the network off again earlier this month.

"In the absence of material new evidence relating to this matter," said the FCC, "we conclude, based on the record before us, in particular TWC’s acknowledgment that its discontinuation of its carriage of the NFL Network without notification to its subscribers violated Section 76.1603, that there are no substantial or material questions of fact as to whether TWC possesses the basic qualifications to be or remain a Commission licensee.

The FCC pointed out in Time Warner's favor that it had provided some notice to subscribers before pulling the network, and that when it did ultimately pull the network in mid-September, it provided rebates for those show had paid for the month.

A carriage dialog continues between Time Warner and NFL Network, said Time Warner spokesman Mark Harrad. Time Warner does not carry the network on its systems due to a dispute over price and placement of the network.