Carolina Panthers President and NFL Vice President Address State Legislators

Cite consumers' concerns about Time Warner raising rates and blocking

access to popular programming



01 May, 2008, 01:00 ET from Football 24/7 Carolina

    COLUMBIA, S.C., May 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Today at a Senate public hearing
 in Columbia, Mark Richardson, president of the Carolina Panthers, and Frank
 Hawkins, Vice President of the National Football League, called on South
 Carolina lawmakers to create a neutral arbitration process to resolve
 disputes between cable companies and independent programmers like NFL
 Network. Time Warner and Comcast are blocking NFL Network from millions of
 South Carolina consumers.
 
     Richardson and Hawkins testified before the Senate Judicial
 subcommittee.
 
     "The dream to bring a football team to the South Carolina took a long
 time to realize," said Richardson. "Our fan base has grown every year, but
 we are still a young team compared to some NFL stalwarts like the Packers
 and Cowboys. NFL Network has something for everyone -- those who know
 little can learn about the Panthers, and those who know more can become
 avid fans. NFL Network is going to be a huge component of the Carolina
 Panthers future success, and we could not succeed without our fans having a
 chance to watch us.
 
     "But the nation's largest cable companies -- two of which, Comcast and
 Time Warner, are also dominant cable providers in South Carolina --
 discriminate against NFL Network and other independently owned networks.
 They favor channels that they own by refusing to carry our content unless
 we agree to allow them to charge their customers extra for a premium
 package," said Richardson.
 
     "Simply put, NFL Network is treated unfairly because it is not owned by
 a cable company.
 
     "Those cable companies have 'bottleneck' power -- they control access
 to their customers, so they are able to pay more attention to their profit
 margins than what their customers want," said Richardson. "As a result, our
 fans aren't getting the programming they want."
 
     Richardson said the proposed arbitration system would be an efficient,
 consumer focused dispute resolution system to level the playing field
 between cable operators and independent networks such as the NFL Network.
 "If a cable company has a dispute with a customer, they go to arbitration.
 We are just saying if an independent television network has a dispute with
 a cable company that owns competing channels, that dispute could be settled
 with arbitration. It's a fair process that will benefit North Carolina
 consumers.
 
 
 

SOURCE Football 24/7 Carolina
    COLUMBIA, S.C., May 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Today at a Senate public hearing
 in Columbia, Mark Richardson, president of the Carolina Panthers, and Frank
 Hawkins, Vice President of the National Football League, called on South
 Carolina lawmakers to create a neutral arbitration process to resolve
 disputes between cable companies and independent programmers like NFL
 Network. Time Warner and Comcast are blocking NFL Network from millions of
 South Carolina consumers.
 
     Richardson and Hawkins testified before the Senate Judicial
 subcommittee.
 
     "The dream to bring a football team to the South Carolina took a long
 time to realize," said Richardson. "Our fan base has grown every year, but
 we are still a young team compared to some NFL stalwarts like the Packers
 and Cowboys. NFL Network has something for everyone -- those who know
 little can learn about the Panthers, and those who know more can become
 avid fans. NFL Network is going to be a huge component of the Carolina
 Panthers future success, and we could not succeed without our fans having a
 chance to watch us.
 
     "But the nation's largest cable companies -- two of which, Comcast and
 Time Warner, are also dominant cable providers in South Carolina --
 discriminate against NFL Network and other independently owned networks.
 They favor channels that they own by refusing to carry our content unless
 we agree to allow them to charge their customers extra for a premium
 package," said Richardson.
 
     "Simply put, NFL Network is treated unfairly because it is not owned by
 a cable company.
 
     "Those cable companies have 'bottleneck' power -- they control access
 to their customers, so they are able to pay more attention to their profit
 margins than what their customers want," said Richardson. "As a result, our
 fans aren't getting the programming they want."
 
     Richardson said the proposed arbitration system would be an efficient,
 consumer focused dispute resolution system to level the playing field
 between cable operators and independent networks such as the NFL Network.
 "If a cable company has a dispute with a customer, they go to arbitration.
 We are just saying if an independent television network has a dispute with
 a cable company that owns competing channels, that dispute could be settled
 with arbitration. It's a fair process that will benefit North Carolina
 consumers.
 
 
 SOURCE Football 24/7 Carolina