The NFL took a hit in court Thursday when an administrative judge for the Federal Communications Commission threw the league's dispute with Comcast over its cable network back to the FCC.
The commission had made a preliminary ruling that Comcast had discriminated against the NFL by agreeing to carry the NFL Network only on a premium sports tier. The league wants to be carried on a basic sports tier. Arthur Steinberg ruled that the case and a handful of others the FCC had given him 60 days to rule on were last month were too complex for such quick treatment.
The move reopens the discrimination question, which is a setback for the NFL, though it stiff-upper-lipped a statement saying it's pleased the judge didn't side with Comcast.
Steinberg's ruling also all but ensures that the matter won't be settled during this football season barring one side or the other giving in. That means Comcast customers will miss all eight live games the network will carry, except any involving a local team, which are simulcast on free TV. The next such game is Thursday night, when the Cincinnati Bengals visit the Pittsburgh Steelers in a rematch of a Week 6 game won by the Steelers 38-10.
Comcast customers were unavailable for comment because they were all out celebrating.
Cincinnati (1-8-1) at PITTSBURGH (7-3)
In an effort to ease the concerns of Comcast customers who were afraid they might have been missing something Thursday night, the Bengals deactivated wide receiver Chad Johnson for this game. The team refused to say why but local media reported that Ocho Cinco overslept and missed a team meeting Wednesday morning.
He was too lazy to go to work so he gets the day off? How do I sign up for some punishment like that?
Kids:Pittsburgh (11-point favorite)