The Washington Times - October 13, 2008, 11:57AM

Comcast customers may be a step closer to getting the NFL Network, after an early Federal Communications ruling that appears to favor the cable network.

The FCC said it will direct an Administrative Law Judge to determine whether Comcast unfairly moved the NFL Network to a special sports tier rather than its widely distributed digital tier. The NFL Network had argued that Comcast was being discriminatory because it put its own sports networks, including Versus and the Golf Channel, on basic tiers. The NFL Network also said Comcast improperly insisted on a ownership share of the network as a condition of carriage.


In its ruling, the FCC said that a basic review of the case reveals that that Comcast may have “indirectly and improperly demanded a financial interest in the NFL’s programming in exchange for carriage. We further find that the pleadings and documentation present several factual disputes as to whether Comcast’s retiering of the NFL Network is the result of Comcast’s failure to obtain a financial interest in the NFL’s programming.”

The law judge, once assigned, has 60 days to issue a ruling and recommendations.