Time Warner Vows FCC Court Battle

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Time Warner Cable is planning to go to court Monday if the Federal Communications Commission declines to suspend immediately its order forcing carriage restoration of NFL Network on systems just acquired from Comcast and Adelphia Communications.

Last Friday, Time Warner restored the NFL Network as required under an FCC staff ruling the day before that held Time Warner appeared to violate an FCC rule that subscribers generally need 30 days notice before a channel deletion may occur.

Among other things, Time Warner, in FCC filings late last week challenging the ruling, claimed that local governments, not the FCC, had authority to enforce the 30-day rule. The MSO said the FCC's insistence on carriage of the NFL Network, even on an interim basis, violated the cable operator's First Amendment editorial and Fifth Amendment private property rights.

“The [FCC staff] decision is forced speech, plain and simple,” Time Warner attorneys told the FCC, adding that the company would have no choice "but to obtain judicial relief to protect its interest and those of its customers."

Time Warner asked the FCC to reconsider the NFL Network decision. It also asked for a stay while the agency reviewed the appeal.

In response, the NFL Network urged the FCC to reject Time Warner's requests, claiming the cable operator "blatantly violated" the 30-day rule.

Time Warner told the FCC that the dispute involved the manner of carriage. The MSO wants the NFL Network to anchor a sports tiers, but the cable operator said the network is insisting on expanded basic carriage on TWC systems.

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