Washington -- NFL Commission Roger Goodell said Wednesday the league might file a compliant at the Federal Communications Commission to secure NFL Network carriage from Time Warner Cable and, presumably, improved carriage terms from Comcast.
“We’re strongly considering that at this point," Goodell told the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. “We want the FCC to step in and make sure there’s an open and free market as the Congress asked for.”
Goodell sparred with Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt over cable sports programming issues. Time Warner Cable and the NFL Network have not reached a carriage deal, and Comcast placed the channel on a sports tier seen by less that 2 million subscribers, Goodell said.
Britt dismissed Goodell's repeated claim that big cable operators were discriminating against the NFL Network for anticompetitive reasons, such as protecting their affiliated sports channels from highly popular NFL content.
“This picture that somehow cable operators control all this programming and [are] discriminating against the poor NFL is just the wrong picture," Britt said, adding that carriage decisions are often complex. "Certainly price and conditions are big part of it.”
ESPN president George Bodenheimer agreed with Britt that Congress should let markets function and not prescribe regulations merely because the NFL couldn't get the deal it wanted.
“I strongly urge you to refrain from intervening in these markets," Bodenheimer said. “Our overarching view is that these [disputes] should be resolved through direct negotiations and not government intervention.”