Can Congress Sack The NFL Network, or Will The Networks Defense Hold Up?

Steve BlairContributor IOctober 30, 2008

In a time when people are losing 40 percent of their retirement in the stock market and families are at risk of losing their homes, jobs and potentially, life as they now know it, congress is busy trying to figure out if the NFL is breaking any anti-trust laws by airing Thursday night games on a proprietary network.

The government is concerned with you being able to watch your favorite team on a Thursday night. They rush through a $700,000,000,000 bailout for the US financial markets, but they labor over this small issue, that quite frankly, should not even be an issue for them. Certainly not now in the times we are facing as a nation. 

The NFL Network has been airing Thursday night games about halfway through the season since 2006. They do not technically have a monopoly on these games because the local markets of the competing teams will have access to these games on their local networks just as they do each week. 

The NFL's owned network is available to over 43 million cable and satellite subscribers nationwide. In last year's Cowboys-Packers game, they had 10 million viewers. On any given Monday night game on ESPN they have 9-11 million viewers.

Not much difference. 

The first Sunday Night game on NBC this season brought in more than 16 million viewers. The New York Times quoted Arlen Spector, a republican senator from PA; "These games are not available on quite a few networks where fans are following these teams."

Well you know what? Boohoo.

I like "5 Guys Famous Burgers and Fries", but they don't have one in my town, so I'm gonna need the government to make sure they build one in my town right away. Should this concern the federal government? Do we have a protected right to be able to view a game of our favorite sports team on the television? 

Congress can put as much pressure as they would like on the NFL, but individuals or cable companies are going to have to bring a lawsuit in order for the league to be sued.

The government can't bring a suit for it, but they can however, change legislation that will more clearly define the anti-trust laws that could potentially make it illegal for the NFL to restrict national coverage to their own proprietary network.

The government has already made the NFL Network exempt to certain laws in order for them to air these Thursday games. 

Many could see this as big government trying to enact even more control over the media. Maybe they should pay more attention to political bias rather than a few games that really won't have much, if any impact on our economy, our way of life, or our future as a nation. 

I'm a Carolina Panthers fan and since I do not get access to all of their games, I spend the extra $200 a year to get DirecTV's "Sunday Ticket" so I do not miss a game.

It's not like these games are simply not available. Watching a football game is a luxury, not a right.  

So, I say to the government; do your job—uphold the constitution, protect our right life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Don't worry about who can or can't watch the Browns take on the Broncos in week 10.