TW chief downbeat on NFL Network talks


NEW YORK -- Time Warner Cable customers itching to watch football games on the National Football League's cable channel remain on hold as the two sides have been unable to reach a deal, Time Warner chairman and CEO Richard Parsons said Tuesday.

"Our guys are right. They want to charge us $1 a sub," he said at the Reuters Media Summit of the proposed per-subscriber fee the U.S. sports league is seeking. "Not going to happen."

The NFL's cable channel NFL Network, launched in November 2003, has been unavailable to subscribers of Time Warner Cable, a unit of media conglomerate Time Warner Inc., as well as smaller cable rivals Cablevision Systems Corp. and Charter Communications Inc.

It was previously reported the NFL was seeking to raise its fee to 70 cents a subscriber from 20 cents.

Parsons declined to discuss details of the talks, but he said they were "heated" and it was a "hot button" issue for the cable company.

"Nobody wins when you have a standoff," he said. "People are trying to find ways of working through this, but there's not a lot of movement on either side right at the moment."

NFL Network spokesman Seth Palansky said there are no discussions with Time Warner, and some NFL fans were looking elsewhere for the NFL cable channel. Satellite television providers DirecTV Group Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp. both carry NFL Network.

"We're always sorry when the cable companies deny their customers the most popular programming they can offer," Palansky said. "When Time Warner is ready, they know where to reach us."