L.A.’s NFL TV week 11: Favre vs. Cassel, not in your castle

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The NFL Network has a decent game this week, with the New York Jets facing New England. On the week the nation celebrates Veterans Day, a veteran human being — Brett Favre — shows up on the league-run channel.

Are you decent enough to watch it?

An email sent out by the NFL Network this morning includes an op-ed piece written by NFL Network president and CEO Steve Bornstein that is “being offered to various publications” concerning the ongoing dispute with cable operators.

Below, we’ve run the opinion piece in full. It concludes:

You can take a stand. Contact your elected officials today. Tell them cable should stop the discrimination and give you NFL Network.

Meanwhile, the lockdown with the San Diego Chargers’ secondary market coverage means that L.A. viewers won’t see undefeated Tennessee meet Jacksonville in the CBS’ afternoon window.

THURSDAY:

== 5:15 p.m., NFL Network: N.Y. Jets at New England (with Bob Papa and Cris Collinsworth).

SUNDAY:

== 10 a.m., Channel 11: Chicago at Green Bay (with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver). As opposed to Philadelphia-Cincinnati, Detroit-Carolina, New Orleans-Kansas City and Minnesota-Tampa Bay on the Fox lineup.

== 10 a.m., Channel 2: Baltimore at N.Y. Giants (with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf). As opposed to Oakland-Miami, Denver-Atlanta or Houston-Indiana on the CBS lineup.

== 1 p.m., Channel 2: San Diego at Pittsburgh (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms) CBS’ other options here: Tennessee-Jacksonville; Fox has St. Louis-San Francisco and Arizona-Seattle.

== 5:15 p.m., Channel 4: Dallas at Washington (with Al Michaels, John Madden and Andrea Kremer) NBC gets to get all presidental with its trip to DC after the Obama victory, and with Tony Romo back in the lineup for the Cowboys.
Meanwhile, NBC says it will keep Indianapolis at San Diego for its Week 12 contest.

MONDAY:

== 5:30 p.m., ESPN: Cleveland at Buffalo (with Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser and that guy who used to quarterback the Rams, leading into a bunch of college basketball games you can see long into the night and early morning)

And now, a message from the NFL Network:


Memo To Cable Companies: Heed the FCC and Offer NFL Network Now

By Steven M. Bornstein

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The Jets-Patriots rivalry gets more intriguing each year. This week, the rivalry has taken a new twist with first-place in the AFC East at stake and Brett Favre leading the Jets while Matt Cassel has taken over for injured Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Favre has helped spark a Jets resurgence, and Cassel has led the Patriots into position for their sixth consecutive AFC East title. NFL Network is excited that our next game telecast this Thursday, November 13, features the Jets at the Patriots.

Unfortunately, some fans may be left on the sidelines for this game. For the second year in a row, Comcast has pushed NFL Network to a narrow sports tier where fans have to pay extra for games they want to see. Time Warner is denying its subscribers the game and other NFL Network programming by refusing to negotiate a deal to put NFL Network on its systems.

It is clear that several big cable companies continue to turn a deaf ear to football fans, blocking or charging extra for our most popular programming on TV. We in the NFL have been trying without success for months to negotiate with these companies for broader coverage.

The good news is that our nation’s regulators are paying attention and keeping the fans in mind. Just last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Media Bureau found that Comcast did discriminate against independent networks like NFL Network. The FCC Media Bureau found Time Warner guilty of the same type of anti-competitive behavior in a similar sports case. It is once again a reminder that these cable companies need to negotiate fairly, not discriminate.

Large cable companies discriminate against networks like NFL Network because we are independent. Have you ever wondered why you get the Golf Channel but not NFL Network? The Golf Channel is owned by Comcast, which makes the channel broadly available. Networks like NFL Network, Wealth TV, and a group of other sports and specialty programming options are not owned by the cable giants. Instead of negotiating with independent programmers, the cable giants discriminate against them in favor of their own.

Meanwhile, cable rates continue to go up. In the last decade, cable rates have increased significantly even though you are blocked from independent programming you really want.

The recent FCC Media Bureau rulings that Comcast and Time Warner Cable discriminated against NFL Network and other independent networks should be a big step forward for consumers and NFL fans. The FCC ordered the case for additional proceedings. But the cable companies continue to drag their feet and are now trying to delay the proceedings, virtually guaranteeing that yet another NFL season will pass before fans get TV they really want, like Thursday night’s Jets-Patriots battle for first place.

You can take a stand. Contact your elected officials today. Tell them cable should stop the discrimination and give you NFL Network.

The author is President & CEO of NFL Network

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