Kerry Urges NFL, Cable Companies to Settle Differences Before Patriots-Giants Game
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is urging the NFL and the cable television industry to settle their differences in time for more viewers to have access to the New England Patriots-New York Giants game on the final weekend of the regular season.
The game is scheduled to be carried on the league-owned TV channel, the NFL Network. Because of a dispute between the league and several large cable carriers, including Comcast and Time Warner, over distribution and pricing, the channel is available in only about 35 million U.S. households.
Kerry urged a resolution in a letter sent Thursday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Kyle McSlarrow, the president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
Kerry wrote: "I am writing to express my concern on behalf of football fans across the country who find themselves caught in the middle of a corporate standoff. While the National Football League and a few major cable companies continue to blame each other for the current state of NFL Network carriage, too many American football fans are being held hostage.
"Unfortunately, this disagreement has led to the use of what could potentially be an historic football game as leverage in a negotiation. On Saturday, December 29th, the New England Patriots will play the New York Giants in a game that could determine whether the Patriots become the first NFL team in 35 years to finish the regular season with an undefeated record. Unfortunately, millions of fans outside of the local media markets--including fans living in Massachusetts and New York--will not have access to the network that will broadcast the game.
"I recognize that the games shown on the NFL Network have been the long-standing subject of commercial negotiations. I do not wish to interfere with these negotiations, and I hope that the two sides can come to an agreement that will ensure that NFL games will be broadcast to the maximum number of television households across the country. In light of the unique circumstances surrounding the 2007 New England Patriots, I urge you to reach an agreement as soon as possible, so that football fans across the country are not prevented from viewing what could be an historic sporting event."
The NFL previously has expressed a willingness to have the dispute settled via binding arbitration through the Federal Communications Commission.
"Commissioner Goodell welcomes the senator's comments because we, too, want broad cable distribution for NFL Network," Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of public relations, said in a written statement. "We agree that the big cable companies should sit down and negotiate with us for distribution comparable to their own channels."
By Mark Maske |
December 7, 2007; 10:14 AM ET
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