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Senate Panel Calls Hearing on DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket Package

Nov 13, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Concerned that the NFL’s exclusive Sunday Ticket package with DirecTV may be disenfranchising cable subscribers, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a last-minute hearing for Tuesday to talk about the package’s antitrust implications.

The hearing was called by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who in January is expected to be replaced by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., as committee chairman.

NFL’s exclusive deal with DirecTV for the NFL Sunday Ticket package lets DirecTV subscribers see multiple NFL games that aren’t broadcast locally and aren’t available on cable.

Sen. Specter in the past has occasionally indicated concern about sports antitrust issues.

Officials from DirecTV and Time Warner Cable and the NFL’s general counsel are among witnesses slated to testify at Tuesday’s hearing.

An NFL spokesman said the league has been told Sen. Specter wants to discuss the NFL’s overall TV policy and said the senator has occasionally scheduled hearings to discuss the issue going back to the days of NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who held the post from 1960 through 1989.

The spokesman said the NFL is pleased to have the discussion, “since our longstanding emphasis on making our games available on free over-the-air TV has helped make us the most popular sport in the country.”