Wednesday, November 15, 2006
NFL & Time Warner: Get off our Backs! [J. Mark English]
This comes from Les Carpenter of the Washington Post:
Just days before the NFL Network broadcasts its first game on Thanksgiving, one of the league's top executives sat in a Senate hearing room yesterday trying to explain its decision to put games on a channel that many cable subscribers won't be able to see.
Jeffrey Pash, the NFL's executive vice president and legal counsel, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the cable systems should not have to charge viewers extra to carry the NFL Network on its main tier of service even as it is embroiled in disputes with Time Warner, Cablevision and others over that very subject....
...The hearing was part of a larger inquiry by the committee into the 1961 Sports Broadcasting Act, which allows joint broadcasting agreements between networks and sports leagues to exist despite antitrust laws. The committee is looking into whether the legislation is outdated, and next month it will examine cross-ownership between sports teams and cable systems.
And this comes from Steven Zeitchik of Variety.com:
Legislators questioned not just the disagreement, but whether the league violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by essentially selling itself a package of eight late-season games in the first place...
...Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who reps a state with two NFL teams and called the relatively last-minute meeting, flogged the antitrust issue hardest...
...Specter also questioned the agreement that allows DirecTV the exclusive right to offer all out-of-market games via its Sunday Ticket Package.
No offense to the honorable senator from Pennsylvania, but aren't there more important things to attend to then the business of football on TV?
Both parties involved in the hearing had this to say:
"The government should leave the solutions to the marketplace..." - Landell Hobbs, executive with Time Warner.
"These disputes are generally resolved because one or both parties reassess and modify their positions. They do not raise antitrust issues and do not require intervention of the Congress." - Jeffrey Pash, NFL executive veep.
The two sides that are against each other in this dispute both agree that the goverment should focus on more important matters such as war...then on overstepping their authority with respect to the open market place. I couldn't agree more.
Also, I think that the Senator should consider the following. The National Football League is the only league that allows all of its games to be seen for free by the fans. For every local team, the fans are allowed free access to the team on TV. If the game is either on ESPN or the NFL Network, a local broadcasting network must air the game. The MLB, NBA, and the NHL do not allow for this to occur. Back in 1994 I had to listen to the New York Rangers win the cup over the radio since I did not have cable TV. Was this a violation of the broadcasting laws? Should that have necessitated an investigation of Congress?
Of course not...