On January 27, 2009, the FCC issued an order returning the NFL Network's carriage dispute with various cable providers to Chief Administrative Law Judge Richard Sippel. The Order reverses an earlier decision by the Media Bureau in which the Bureau determined that Judge Sippel's delegated authority had expired. The hearing is now set to begin on April 14.
The NFL-cable dispute arose when two of the nation's biggest cable providers, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, refused to carry the NFL Network on their respective basic digital tiers. The NFL had offered to charge the cable providers a 70-cent per-customer, per-month distribution fee for the Network. Although satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network, as well as some smaller cable operators, accepted the deal, Comcast and Time Warner Cable balked, arguing that the cost would have to be passed on to all subscribers, including non-NFL fans, and that the programming offered by the NFL Network outside the football season has little value to their customers.
A link to the January 27, 2009 order is available here.