Massachusetts 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 NFL and several major cable companies over how football games on the NFL network are broadcast.
This has been a hot topic among Patriots fans, who have expressed concern that they won't be able to see the season finale against the Giants, which is scheduled to be broadcast on the NFL Network.
The text of the letter:
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
The following is the NFL's response, from spokesman Greg Aiello, to the letter written by Massachusetts senator John Kerry:
"Commissioner Goodell welcomes the senator's comments because we, too, want broad cable distribution for NFL Network. We agree that the big cable companies should sit down and negotiate with us for distribution comparable to their own channels.
"All fans should be able to see the NFL Network like they are able to see the Golf Channel on Comcast and Major League Baseball on TBS. Comcast has an agreement in place with us right now that would enable it to put the NFL Network into 25 million homes. Instead, Comcast delivers NFL Network to only one million homes on a pay-extra basis. Comcast can change that now without any further negotiation. As to Time Warner and other companies, we are eager to negotiate immediately with all the major cable companies to make NFL Network widely available."