The House Telecom subcmte’s hearing on sports programming played out Wed like the entertaining and antagonistic press conferences endemic to boxing, albeit with 1 important difference: primary pugilist Comcast was conspicuously absent. Even so, opposing camps stuck to their respective corners on the issue of government intervention in carriage disputes and, of course, numerous punches were thrown. “Comcast and Time Warner Cable use their bottleneck power to unlawfully discriminate against independent programmers,” said NFL commish Roger Goodell, continuing NFL Net‘s primary argument from earlier state-level hearings. The pro football boss also reiterated the league’s wish for a dispute resolution process, not for govt intervention. “We’re looking for the FCC to enforce the [program access] procedures and rules established in ’92,” said Goodell, adding that the league is “strongly considering” an official complaint filing with the FCC. Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt countered. “I believe the NFL…is being disingenuous,” said Britt of NFL Net’s desire for basic cable carriage while the league still limits NFL Sunday Ticket access. When Goodell continued to employ his cable discrimination jab Britt became peevish. “What is he talking about?” said Britt, noting that cable completely owns but a few nets. “It’s just the wrong picture altogether.” Of course, the NFL’s argument is most applicable to Comcast ( Versus, Golf Channel), which said it wasn’t formally invited to the hearing. Comcast is “clearly using NFL programming to drive its sports tier,” said Goodell, refusing to downshift in the MSO’s absence. He said Comcast tallied 750K sports tier subs when they added NFL Net to the content basket, and that in Nov that total had jumped to approx 1.8mln. Comcast refused to confirm or deny this data. Meanwhile, most cmte members expressed initial reluctance to intervene in programming disputes. But Rep Cliff Stearns (R-FL) did cite a GAO report that found cable-affiliated nets to have a 31% greater chance of pay-TV carriage than indies. Not surprisingly, card-carrying Corduroy Crew member/ Consumer Federation of America research dir Mark Cooper called the sports video marketplace a “rat’s nest” of anti-competitiveness. In the corner espousing a hands-off govt stood ESPN‘s George Bodenheimer, Progress and Freedom Foundation‘s Ken Ferree and DirecTV‘s Derek Chang.