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Sen. Specter Rips NFL On TV
The NFL Network and Sunday Ticket, which include high-def games, are criticized.
By Phillip Swann
Washington, D.C. (November 14, 2006) -- Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) today criticized the National Football League for including regular season games on its NFL Network channel.
For the first time this year, the NFL Network channel will broadcast eight regular season games, starting Thanksgiving night. The games will be broadcast in High-Definition TV.
In a 90-minute hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Specter suggested that by giving its own network the exclusive right to the games, it may have violated antitrust laws.
After deciding to air eight games on the NFL Network, cable operators say the channel has asked for more money to carry it. Time Warner has refused to carry the channel, noting higher programming fees.
Specter, the committee's chairman, asked Time Warner COO Landel Hobbs if he believed the NFL had violated antitrust law. However, Hobbs said he thought the marketplace -- not the federal government -- should resolve the dispute.
In a related issue, Specter also suggested that the NFL and DIRECTV should make the NFL Sunday Ticket available to other TV providers. After outbidding the cable industry, the satcaster has an exclusive with the league to broadcast the pay package. For an extra fee, the package includes several games each week in High-Definition TV
Daniel Fawcett, DIRECTV's executive vice president, countered that the Sunday Ticket did not violate antitrust laws. He added that Congress has passed laws designed to help new TV providers compete with the cable industry.
However, Time Warner's Hobbs said DIRECTV, which launched in 1994, should no longer be considered a new TV provider.
Specter finished the hearing by suggesting the NFL should be willing to accept less money to ensure that more people can watch their games. However, he did not say he would introduce legislation to make that law.
"The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his."
- General George Patton (1885-1945)