FCC to Time Warner: Reinstate NFL

NEW YORK The Federal Communications Commission has ordered Time Warner Cable to reinstate carriage of the NFL Network on its newly acquired Adelphia systems until the FCC is able to render a decision on the network’s motion seeking permanent reinstatement.

Upon completing its acquisition of the properties on Tuesday, Time Warner pulled the NFL Network from all Adelphia systems. (Time Warner does not carry the network on its other systems and has been negotiating a carriage deal.)

NFL Network that same day filed a petition with the FCC for permanent reinstatement; Time Warner has yet to respond. Even so, the NFL issued a statement on the ruling that said, in part, “We appreciate the FCC’s speedy action in response to our petition . . . and we look forward to continuing discussions with Time Warner regarding long-term carriage of the NFL Network.”

The FCC ordered Time Warner to file no later than Aug.15. NFL Network would then have five days to respond in kind.

The FCC said, “This expedited pleading cycle will afford the commission to promptly resolve this dispute.”

Reinstating the network to the former Adelphia systems in the interim is in the public’s interest, the FCC said.

Cable operators must give subscribers 30 days notice before dropping a channel, and Time Warner yanked the NFL Network “with essentially no warning to customers,” the commission said.

The network was pulled in major professional football markets such as Buffalo, Cleveland and Dallas.

“Such action by Time Warner was particularly harmful to customers given the time of year,” the FCC said. “With NFL training camps now underway and the NFL’s pre-season schedule commencing on Aug. 11, now is a time when many football fans have a particular desire to view the NFL Network’s programming. Therefore, each day the Time Warner customers go without the NFL Network significantly and irreparably harms many of them.”