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Kerry Wants to Huddle with NFL, Cable Operators

Sen. and New England Patriots fan

John Kerry

(D-Mass.) upped the ante in his effort to make sure the New England Patriots' potentially historic National Football League game at the New York Giants is widely available on TV, and he was joined by another Capitol Hill Patriots fan.

Kerry said that both the NFL and cable had responded to his earlier inquiry about their carriage impasse/dispute by saying they were both willing to come to an agreement about airing the Dec. 29 game, which could see the Patriots become the only team since the Miami Dolphins to go undefeated in the regular season.

Having suggested to NFL Network and the two blargest cable operators that it would be a good thing to settle their carriage differences, Kerry has now written letters to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and executives at Time Warner Cable and Comcast asking for a meeting next week in his office in Washington, D.C.

NFL Network wants carriage on cable operators' more widely viewed basic tier, while Comcast, for one, hplaced it in a sports tier, saying that it does not want viewers to have to pay for an "expensive" channel that many won't be watching. Time Warner does not carry the channel.

Another Capitol Hill Patriots fan, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), joined Kerry in urging the NFL and cable operators to get together.

“I strongly urge the National Football League and Time Warner and Comcast to quickly reach agreements on their current carriage disputes over the NFL Channel," Markey said in a statement Wednesday. "If the Patriots succeed in reaching the culmination of the regular season in undefeated fashion, the NFL and the cable operators shouldn’t fumble this compelling game away for millions of fans. It’s time for all sides to start their two-minute drill to reach the end zone on a deal that protects fans and cable ratepayers alike.”

Below is a copy of Kerry's letter to Goodell, which is the same one he sent to David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, and Glenn Britt, president of Time Warner Cable.

Mr. Roger Goodell


National Football League

280 Park Ave.

New York, NY 10017

Dear Commissioner Goodell,

Thank you for your prompt response to my letter of last week. I appreciate the expressed willingness of both the NFL and the cable companies involved in the NFL Network dispute to reach an agreement regarding the broadcast of the Dec. 29 game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.

The Patriots’ pursuit of a perfect season has attracted a legion of new fans to the sport and has been an important financial boost for the NFL. Given the unique circumstances surrounding this game, we cannot allow proprietary interests to trump commercial interests and prevent an agreement from being reached in time to ensure the broadest possible level of viewership. The popularity of the National Football League was built around the accessibility of the game to the fans.  If possible, such a principle should be upheld with respect to a game of this significance.

I remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached in time to ensure that a maximum number of Massachusetts residents, as well as football fans across the country, are able to view this game. Since time is of the essence, I would ask that representatives from the NFL, Time Warner and Comcast join me in a meeting next week in my Washington office to discuss potential solutions to this problem.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.


John F. Kerry