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NFL smacked down by Sen. Specter

November 16, 2006

Sounds like an influential member of the U.S. Senate, Pa.’s Sen. Arlen Specter, is questioning the National Football League‘s odd set of rules regarding their national TV contracts and satellite packages.

It’s about time.

The only reason I haven’t switched to DirecTV satellite dish yet and its exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket all-the-games-you-can-eat package is because the local CBS affiliate in the area is now carrying more Steelers games on the weekend, instead of the rival Ravens games it was forced to carry by the league.

Oh yeah, and my wife thinks the dish is an eyesore. Can’t argue with that logic.

No, seriously, I’m not allowed to argue with that logic.

From the Reuters report:

At issue are several deals the NFL has made or is attempting to make that either grant exclusivity to one carrier or another or dictate the tier on which cable operators can place pro football programming.

NFL executive vp Jeffrey Pash told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the league’s primary desire is to get its games on more viewers’ TV sets by keeping a majority of its games on broadcast TV.

“The centerpiece of the NFL’s television policy is free, over-the-air broadcasting of NFL games,” Pash told the committee. “The best way to do so has been and continues to be through broadcast television.”

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., is concerned that new TV packages such as the one on the NFL Network and the league’s Thursday-Saturday package of games will drive up cable prices. He also expressed concern over the NFL’s decision to limit its Sunday Ticket package to satellite TV.

Specter accused the NFL of anti-competitive practices because it refused a to take a bid from Comcast for the right to carry the programming. Comcast is headquartered in Philadelphia.

“Why is Sunday Ticket not available by competitive bidding?” Specter asked. “I’m told the NFL told Comcast it wouldn’t take a bid from them.”

If the NFL is going to force regular-season games onto its exclusive NFL Network cable channel, strongarming cable networks to carry them and pay the NFL for the privledge to watch Bryant Gumbel, that’s an outrage.

I hope Congress can do something about this about this important issue.

(Your Senator: “Yeah, we’re bogged down in Iraq and North Korea and Iran have nukes, but hey, you can watch the Steelers-Browns game in HD! Re-elect me!)

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  1. November 16, 2006 3:34 pm

    Not sure I could recommend switching to the Dish. I’ve got DirecTV now after years with Comcast. As soon as my contract expires, I’m going back with cable. It rains a lot where I live, and when it’s stormy, satellite reception is intermittent. Additionally, DSL was part of the bundle, and it isn’t nearly as fast as a cable Internet connection. That said, if you live in a relatively dry climate, or you don’t download lots of huge files, satellite and DSL should work fine for you.

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