NFL Gives Churches Super Sunday Blessing

The National Football League decided that churches will be able to show the Super Bowl on any size screen they want.

According to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, commissioner Roger Goodell informed Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) that the league would not object to live showings -- regardless of screen size -- of the Super Bowl by religious organizations when such showings are free and on premises used by the religious organizations on a routing and customary basis.

The move came after the Washington Post wrote a story about some churches canceling Super Bowl parties for fear of running afoul of the policy. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) then introduced a bill that would have allowed churches to show the game on big screens, and other legislators, including Hatch, expressed their concerns.

At the time of the introduction of Specter’s bill, McCarthy told B&C the NFL hadn't sent any letters to churches nor investigated a church, but it instead responded when a church asked for guidance or one of its network partners raised the issue.

"Don't charge admission -- the game is on for free -- and use TVs of the size commonly found in homes," McCarthy said, which, according to copyright law, is defined as under 55 inches, although he told B&C the NFL might reconsider that screen size in an age of increasingly larger HDTV screens.

He also told B&C the league would consider extending the sports-bar exemption to churches.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.