Senator John Kerry sent a letter to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell and President and CEO of National Cable & Telecommunications Association Kyle McSlarrow today, asking them to break the deadlock in negotiations between the League and several major cable companies over how football games on the NFL network are broadcast. As a result of the standoff, millions of fans across the country are unable to view certain games on the NFL network. Kerry asked that the two sides come to an agreement quickly to ensure that fans across the country are able to tune in when the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in what has the potential to be a historic game. The Patriots are aiming to finish the season as the first team to go undefeated since the Miami Dolphins accomplished the feat 35 years ago.
Kerry has strongly advocated for sports fans in the past, most recently when he held a hearing on a similar deal between Major League Baseball and major cable corporations earlier this year. The companies eventually reached a deal that accommodated fans. The Patriots-Giants game will be televised by the NFL Network.
Below is the text of Kerry's letter:
December 6, 2007
Mr. Roger Goodell
National Football League
280 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
President & CEO
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
25 Massachusetts Avenue, NW - Suite 100
Washington, DC 20001
Dear Commissioner Goodell and President McSlarrow,
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.
I thank you for your consideration.
John F. Kerry