NFL Net offers 'olive branch' to cablers

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NEW YORK -- Time Warner Cable and Cablevision said Wednesday that they are willing to carry the Texas Bowl game featuring Rutgers-Kansas State in the New York-New Jersey area following an offer by the NFL Network.

Neither TWC nor Cablevision offer the NFL Network on their systems, which means that millions of households in the region won't be able to see Rutgers play. The Dec. 30 New York Giants-Washington Redskins game will be available on WNBC-TV in the region.

Cablevision said it will offer the pre- and postgame coverage as well as the game itself on the evening of Dec. 28 on its expanded-basic channel 14. But it turned down the NFL Network's offer of a license to carry a week's worth of its programming, which included another bowl game and its NFL shows.

TWC said Wednesday that it didn't have room on its expanded basic to carry the NFL Network from Dec. 24-30, as offered by the channel. TWC president and CEO Glenn Britt said in a letter to NFL Network president and CEO Steven Bornstein that it could carry the Texas Bowl game on a basic-tier channel but not the entire network because of contractual obligations to carry other channels. It offered to televise the NFL Network for Christmas week on a digital channel, which it said was available to 75% of TWC customers.

"We prefer the first approach because it would allow all our New York customers to see the Rutgers game, but we're willing to pursue either path," Britt said.

There has been a recent history of sharp words between TWC and the NFL Network, all the more so since TWC has so far resisted efforts to get the NFL Network -- and its primetime regular-season package -- into its basic tier like it is on other cable systems. But on Wednesday, Britt offered an olive branch.

"We think it is also appropriate, in keeping with the spirit of your offer and that of the holiday season, that both TWC and the NFL refrain from battling each other in the media during the week the game or network is carried," Britt wrote. He suggested that it would be a "general truce" and suggested that TWC would pay for a "holiday gift from the NFL and TWC" ads.

Cablevision suggested one step further that the NFL Network allow a local broadcast station to carry the Texas Bowl so the game isn't just available to cable and satellite customers.

"In the absence of broadcast carriage for the 1 million homes in our metropolitan region without cable or satellite television, we are pleased the NFL Network has decided to make the game available to our customers," Cablevision chief operating officer Tom Rutledge said.

The NFL Network was reviewing the TWC response but hadn't heard anything from Cablevision yet. NFL executives declined immediate comment.
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