Time Warner giving boot to NFL Network
By ALAN PERGAMENT
News TV Critic
The NFL Network very likely will be thrown for a loss Tuesday locally and nationally when it is expected to be dropped from the cable lineup after Adelphia's long-awaited takeover by Time Warner is completed.
With the Buffalo Bills opening training camp and the league's network planning to carry 52 preseason games, the likely move to drop the channel couldn't come at a worse time for the local Adelphia subscribers who will be switched to Time Warner on Tuesday.
Buffalo, Dallas and Cleveland are the three NFL markets that had been getting The NFL Network and will lose it in the Adelphia-Time Warner deal, according to an NFL Network spokesman.
"We pleaded to be left on while we continue to negotiate," e-mailed the spokesman, "especially since the first of 52 preseason games and 12 inside training camp shows begin, but Time Warner refused."
Gordon Harp, the Buffalo division president of Time Warner, confirmed Thursday night that the cable company is notifying subscribers through newspaper advertisements and other means of the strong possibility that the football network that currently is available on basic cable in Western New York will be dropped on Tuesday.
"We're providing notification in case it happens," Harp said. "We're still negotiating. Hopefully, we'll work out an agreement."
However, the advertisement plans and the fact that Time Warner hasn't been able to make a national deal with The NFL Network for three years makes a quick, positive resolution very unlikely.
A spokesman for The NFL Network said it plans to launch its own marketing campaign to let Buffalo viewers understand their options. It has set up a number, (866) 635-6389 (NFL-Network), for people to complain to Time Warner about the planned move. The NFL Network also is making cable subscribers aware that it has reached deals with satellite providers Dish Network and DirecTV on their "most affordable, basic packages."
Adelphia had put The NFL Network, which launched in November 2003, on basic cable locally when it folded the Empire Sports Network. Long term, the move also was designed to compete with satellite providers.
Time Warner's quick move to drop The NFL Network is a surprise since cable systems are believed to need 30 days notice before dropping a channel.
"They contend [they don't]," explained the NFL Network spokesman.http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial...28/1027649.asp