In Depth

Broadcasters to Congress: ESPN’s Deal for BCS Games Disenfranchises Viewers

The National Association of Broadcasters is issuing a warning to policy makers and Congress about the potential impact of ESPN’s winning exclusive rights to air most of the Bowl Championship Series. The new deal takes much of the series off broadcast TV and moves it to basic cable.

In a policy statement today, NAB’s board of directors said the move would “disenfranchise” millions of viewers.

“Broadcasters continue to support the rights of all Americans to have free access to telecasts of major sporting events, particularly those of publicly funded educational institutions,” the resolution said. It directed the NAB staff to educate policy makers “on the importance of ensuring that no segments of society are disenfranchised from this highly valued programming.”

Last week, the BCS announced that ESPN had outbid Fox for the rights to the series of games and would begin airing the games starting in 2011. ESPN’s offer was said to be $500 million over four years. Fox bid $400 million, up from the $330 million it’s paying under its current four-year deal.