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Cablevision, NFL Network Reach Agreement

December 22, 2006

By SETH SUTEL

NEW YORK – Cablevision Systems Corp., a New York-area cable TV provider, reached an agreement with the NFL Network on Friday that will allow its customers to see a much-anticipated college football game between Rutgers and Kansas State University next Thursday.

The agreement resolves a standoff that had raised the ire of fans in the New York and New Jersey area, who were clamoring to see Rutgers – long an underdog on the college football circuit – cap its best season in the Big East.

Cablevision still doesn’t have a long-term carriage agreement with the NFL Network, but on Friday accepted an offer from them to carry the network for free for the week of Dec. 24 through Dec. 30.

The NFL holds the rights to broadcast the matchup, which is being played in Houston in the inaugural Texas Bowl. Without carriage on cable providers, many local fans wouldn’t have been able to see the game since it isn’t being carried on a local broadcast outlet.

Cablevision said it would carry the network on its digital tier, a supplemental service that is received by many customers. It also will carry the game itself on its widely available basic tier.

Time Warner Cable, another local cable provider, has reached an agreement with the NFL to carry the network on its digital service for the same week. Time Warner Cable is a unit of the media conglomerate Time Warner Inc.

Time Warner had originally balked at an NFL request to carry the network for the full week on its most widely available basic cable service, saying there wasn’t enough capacity.

Time Warner Cable also doesn’t have a long-term deal with the network, and says the NFL is asking for too much money for the network. It is also resisting demands from the NFL that it be placed on its broadest tier, which Time Warner says would be expensive.

The NFL Network is about two years old, but only began broadcasting live games this year. In addition to the Texas Bowl and another college bowl game, the Insight Bowl between Minnesota and Texas Tech on Dec. 29, the network is carrying eight live NFL games this year.

Frank Lautenberg, a Democratic Senator from New Jersey who had urged both sides to find a way to show the game, said in a statement Friday that both sides “moved in good faith” to reach an accommodation.




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