NFL: No Basis To Yank Antitrust Exemption


The NFL says Congress has no reason to remove its long-standing antitrust exemption.

"There is no basis now to repeal statutory provisions that have supported the development of these pro-consumer and pro-fan policies," said Brain McCarthy, NFL director of communications.

The league was responding to the threat--more like a promise--from Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, that he was going to introduce a bill to pull that exemption. That threat came at a hearing Thursday on access to cable sports programming.

He said the NFL was making anti-consumer programming moves that mirrored what he said were anti-fan moves when the league lets some teams--like the Colts and Browns--switch cities.

"We have discussed a wide range of issues, including television, franchise moves, and stadium construction, with Sen Specter for more than 20 years," said McCarthy.

"We are sensitive to his concerns and will continue to be responsive to his interest in the NFL.  For more than four decades, NFL television practices have been recognized as consistent with the public interest and as delivering fans extraordinary amounts of programming at little or no cost. NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL Network support consumer choice, as well as broader competition in the overall television market."

Specter was critical of the NFL's exclusive Sunday Ticket deal with satellite provider DirecTV that is unavailable to competing cable operators in the market.