SBD/Issue 52/Sports Media

NAB Will Push To Keep Premier Sporting Events On Free TV

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), comprised of the major TV nets and their affiliate stations, Tuesday said that they will "push policymakers to support free access to premier televised sporting events" after ESPN obtained the rights to the BCS, according to Cecilia Kang of the WASHINGTON POST. The NAB also said that it will "ramp up lobbying efforts with advocacy groups for the elderly, consumers and immigrants to educate members of Congress about how such deals could affect some viewers." NAB Exec VP/Media Relations Dennis Wharton: "The question is whether college presidents and athletic directors at publicly funded institutions should be complicit in disenfranchising 20[%] of citizenry from access to the most popular college football games." ESPN and cable operators "acknowledge that millions of viewers would be shut out through the deal," but both said that the "vast majority of viewers are already subscribing to paid video services." FCC Chair Kevin Martin said of the ESPN/BCS deal, "This is part of an overall trend we've seen of sports programming moving from broadcast to pay services. I'm concerned about that for viewers" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/26).

Writer Wonders If Move Of BCS To ESPN Is
Harbinger Of Future NFL Shift To Cable
NOT SO FAST: In DC, Leonard Shapiro wrote under the header, "ESPN-BCS Marriage Might End Up Hurting Football." If ESPN can "get college football's title game on cable, is there any doubt that one of these days the NFL also might be tempted to do the same with its mega-valuable postseason events -- the playoffs and Super Bowl -- in the not too distant future?" Shapiro: "Nevertheless, I suspect we're still many years from an NFL playoff and Super Bowl scenario on ESPN, at least as long as Congress has anything to say about it." If one thinks U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) has been a "tad miffed over his Pennsylvania constituents' inability to get the NFL Network on anything but an extra pay cable tier, wait until he and the rest of his colleagues start hearing from the voters about a Super Bowl heading in that same direction say, by the middle of the next decade" (, 11/25).

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