back to article FCC rescues American football fans

The US Federal Communications Commission has stepped in to bring a temporary halt to a dispute that had threatened to disrupt that most cherished of American institutions: watching young men attempt to bash each other senseless over the possession of an inflated ersatz pig bladder. This revelation comes in a statement (PDF) …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    itemize the bill

    Time Warner (and Charter, Cox, etc) should just break out the carriage charges on their bills. Just like when I get my phone bill, I can see that one 6-hour conference call cost more than my normal phone bill...

    1. Bill Neal
      Thumb Up


      Time Warner (or BrightHouse as it is now known in the Tampa bay area) should have just paid up, and offered the game on a pay-per-view basis. People who want to see the game are willing to pay.

  2. Slaytanic

    Gee, I wonder...

    What would most Americans do if they had their most beloved tit yanked away from their mouths? Best not find out and let them lie all comfy on their chesterfields...

  3. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    And what of the Gator Bowl?

    I am curious if his encouragement of Fox and Time Warner will ultimately mean the FCC will force them to appease wanna-be Gator Bowl viewers. And do we really need to start pointing out every country's "crippling" form of entertainment? America is not alone in its people having tantrums if some entertainment is yanked away from them (I appreciate the allusion there: American, yank. Good 'un.) Like it or not, sports moves big money for all involved, just the same as "Idol," etc. But does the government REALLY need to get involved?

    On a serious note, I am curious as to whether this type of dispute, a contractual argument between two privately owned businesses, really falls under the purview of the F.C.C. Maybe we can lobby it to force Fox to continue "The Sarah Connor Chronicles." Obtuse (used twice tonight, yes!) I realize, but exaggerated for obvious purposes.

    Paris, obtuse and exaggerated for unknown purposes.

    1. Alan W. Rateliff, II
      Paris Hilton

      Correction to me made...

      I was wrong about the Fox/Gator Bowl thingie. The Gator Bowl was on CBS. As you were.


    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Capitalism or not?

      So will the government decide if it wants capitalism (let the money decide what happens - like senitors in the pockets of RIAA), or communism (the government ensures that the right thing is done for the people as a whole).

      If the government is to stick it's oar in to what Fox does, I also vote for continuation of "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" .

  4. Cliff

    Different from "idol"

    I think the big difference between <<countryname>> idol and televised sport is that the sport's history goes back well before TV coverage, and so there is so me kind of duty to prevent these important and enduring events from being hijacked or held to ransom purely for profit.

    Rather - find a fan of a sport. He can probably tell you who won by what margin against other teams for the past several decades, or often a lot longer (eg with UK soccer). Matches play out only minor battles in far longer wars. Reality TV constructed talent shows - nobody gives a crap who won 2 days after the end of the show. There's no tribal loyalty, that's why sport has a higher importance socially. The Red Sox (that's an American sports team, right?) will still be relevant long after Simon Cowell will!

    Personally I couldn't care less about sport, but I can see why it's more important than the cult of individual personality.

    1. skeptical i

      As long as teams represent their "constituents", sure.

      It is my understanding that once upon a time, the Boston Red Sox (or any other sports team) consisted of players mostly (or entirely) from Boston (or the region), so when one root- root- root[ed] for the home team, it really was the "home" team in that the players were friends, family, neighbors, or people one might reasonably expect to see in a local pub. So I get the precedent for the loyalty to one team or another. However, in the day of players being bought and sold across states and countries, of teams picking up and moving cross- country more or less at whim ("If we don't get a bigger stadium -- at taxpayer expense -- with more skyboxes and scantily- clad serving boys and girls, we're leaving" *sticks out tongue* *pouts*), I don't see why there is any team loyalty since the teams themselves don't seem to give a rat's about their fans beyond gate admissions. (Of course, there are individual players who understand the fans == paycheck relationship and are more than gracious about autographs, appearances, charity work, &c, but they do not appear to be the majority.)

      The point of this being that I agree with Cliff, but expect the day will come when teams won't be relevant beyond giving fans a chance to cheer for the region the teams notionally represent. At the high school or lower pro division levels that recruit talent closer to home teams might cling longer to relevance unless/until they become more "big league" in their carpetbagging ways.

  5. Big Bear

    At least it was for something decent

    Our paramount leader Gordo Broon only got involved to have a wee chat with Subo or something like that!

    Now, if we can get fecking Fox to let us watch the playoffs on a non Sky channel in this country...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    done it before and tey will do it again

    was it last year for year before fox did something like this?

    i lost track since i do not bother with american football. but fox did something like this in NYC with their news package which caused another spat and outrage which caused fcc to step in.

    you just have to love fox for trying to pass the loss of revenue from advertisers to their customers. happy new year now your cable bill is 2x more than last year!

    beer beause you willl need to be drunk and semi calm/cognative to read your future cable bill

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You forgot...

    "young men attempt to bash each other senseless over the possession of an inflated ersatz pig bladder"

    While wearing the equivalent armour of a Challenger tank. What a bunch of pansies - they should try rugby if they want a violent sport. Only protection is a head protector so the opposition can't bite your ear off and a cup to protect the family jewels.

    None of this tupperware that the pansies wear.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @AC 2031

      AC, you've obviously never played American rules football. I have (College level, not pro). I've also played Rugby, during my two years at Uni in England. And Aussie Rules Football, in an "adult amateur" league in Adelaide (I was on a "work exchange" job, trying to teach the Aussie telco how to use our gear for a year ... my counterpart was in Redwood City, California trying to learn my job ...).

      I've also played Cricket, Baseball, Hockey, Soccer, Golf, Tennis, Water Polo, and Basketball at the college level. My personal order of most physical to least is:

      Aussie Rules Football, American Football, Rugby, Ice Hockey, Water Polo, Tennis, Basketball, Soccer, Baseball, Cricket, Golf

      Now, I wasn't a pro (I was scouted as catcher by Major League Baseball). And note that I'm not talking about the effort of getting into condition to play the sport, I'm talking about playing the sport itself. Try to remember that the protective gear in American Football is worn by both the offense and the defense, and when used (in)correctly can act as a weapon ... How the Aussies survive a season at their version of Pro Football is beyond me! Them guys is TOUGH barstards!

    2. Gary Turner

      Sorry, no comparison

      Look at a compilation of Rugby "big hits". You will see those hits on a hundred plays per game in American football, and that's just the tackles. Add in the hits laid on by blockers whose job it is to clear a path for the man with the ball.

      Look at the action in the scrimmage line, where each 300 lb. behemoth's job is to knock another giant on his ass. Then, there's the Rugby scrum in which everyone holds hands and has a pushing and shoving match.

      I'd rather watch either, though, than watch soccer, where the most exciting thing to see is the grass growing.

    3. Michael Nelson

      Protective equipment in Rugby?

      'Cup'? Cricket players wear a 'box'. Rugby players don't, unless things have changed in the last few years.

      As far as I remember, the only real piece of protective equipment worn by all rugby players is a gum shield, which is VERY important. Forwards sometimes wear head protectors, which are more to stop ears being ripped off then bitten. Vaseline smeared over the ears is also useful.

      Hookers sometimes wear shin pads -- which is a good idea when the opposition decides to play dirty when the referee can't see. Also, nowadays rugby shirts are sometimes a little padded, although only to protect the shoulders and collar bone.

    4. Tony S

      Come and have a go...

      I played American football at an amateur level for 7 years - during that time, I had the opportunity to work out with some college and semi pro players. I also took part in some drills with some pro guys on one occasion which was really amazing.

      I remember that a couple of people from the Rugby League turned up for a tryout at one point and changed their minds fairly quickly.

      I have a level of respect for anyone that plays any game at any level on a regular basis - I have none at all for anyone that makes facetious comments that has clearly never even tried to play the game.

  8. kain preacher


    Same thing they did when base ball went on strike. FInd some thing else to do.

  9. Bruce Ordway

    Football mania in the US

    I hated football on TV when I was a kid in the 60's.

    Sports were for playing, not watching.

    The more years I had been employed, the more I found that football was what people talked about at work. It's like the weather, only a little more-so. People invite you over to "watch the game". Salesman give out tickets. Eventually I started watching.

    Now, I'm as bad as everybody else turning my mind off and wasting the hours.

    What kind of disease is this?

    >Maybe we can lobby it to force Fox to continue "The Sarah Connor Chronicles."

    Of course that's the other side, there never has been much else worth watching.

    The Mighty Boosh doesn't come on here until after 11 P.M

  10. billoyd788

    Digital over the air TV Signal

    Just use your digital antenna to get the over the air signal. Doesn't cover all cable channels but "24" will come in just fine. Also, if you have a local cable outage you aren't stuck with just Disney DVDs.

  11. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Blah to Sinclair

    This is all about greed. I really am not a fan of the cable cos either, but here's what happened..

    Traditionally, the cable company would carry local channels, free of charge in both directions (i.e the channels wouldn't charge, because they wanted the increased viewership -- most people with cable don't have an antenna, and in the case of the city I'm in, the city is in a hole and the transmitters are almost 70 miles away, so antenna really isn't fully effective. On the flip side, the cable co wouldn't charge, people want to get their local channels. I.e it's mutually beneficial.)

    So eventually it go to where the cable co would carry ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, and later on Fox and CW, but there'd be like 10 or more OTHER local channels, and they may not carry all of them. About 10 or 15 years ago the FCC carried a "must carry" rule REQUIRING them to carry all local channels. Fair enough.

    Later on, some companies *cough* Sincliar *cough* figured out -- hey, the cable co is REQUIRED to carry us, but there's nothing saying we can't try to charge them for it! Yep that's what Sinclair is doing, charging the cable co to increase their viewership (and, in fact, trying to INCREASE what they charge.) I hope (in the case of eastern Iowa) that they just drop them like a bad habit and just pick up the Fox and CBS from the Quad Cities or Des Moines instead.

  12. Doug Glass

    Fox Charlie Charlie

    Yeah, the FCC drones have no lives either so they have to have their TV sports. Most sporty people I know first get angry then panic then revert to the fetal position.

    Some of us actually have lives with three dimensional characters who live and breathe and love to go outside the home to actually do something. As opposed to living life vicariously through overpaid and overgrown little boys. Of course some of those little boys get their jaw cracked by some sort of club and it was kinda fun to watch that soap opera.

    I'm glad members of my family have real lives. I'm not worried if the afterlife has TV sports, but I know some who are. Or is it h3ll that has no TV? Whatever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Let me just say...

      Amen to that!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Well said!

      Amen brother!

      I am one of the few hetrosexual men I know that hates sport with a passion! Mainly 'cos my mum and dad were football and motor sport watching fanatics, dragging me to events almost every weekend during my childhood. I cannot understand the need to sit watch other people play sport. I love rugby, but only when played it at school. I love cycling, but only when I am doing it.

      Then again I hate the fact that I watch around a grand total of 15 mins of broadcast TV a year and have to pay the BBC fr the privilege of watching my own DVDs I have paid for!

      I know we only use something stupid like about 20% of our brain capacity, but filling with inane facts about every football ( proper use of the word in the UK, I'll give you that! ) statistic just seems so pointless.

      Best comedy sketch to sum it up is the Mitchell and Webb one where the the guy keeps making reference to his favourite football team using first person, "We beat you 3-0 last weekend! You didn't stand a chance!" At which point the other guy gets annoyed and twists it to use the same term in reference to Indiana Jones, "You remember when WE stole the Arc of the Covenent and WE were being chased by the Nazi's and WE fell under a lorry! I've decided I like Indiana Jones so much, I've decided I was in it!"

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @You forgot

    I knew there'd be a Pavolvian response like that. Thanks for not disappointing!

    Now get back to your lager.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    .....(eg with UK soccer).

    No, it's football. i.e a game where your FOOT hits the BALL.

    Your "football" would be better described as "Handball".

    I think all UK (and pretty much the entire world) should now refer to the this sport as Handball from now on and irratate yourselves as much as soccer make our teeth grind.

    That is all....

    PS I don't like either, much prefer womens Volleyball, Beach Volleyball, Athletics, in fact anything where I don't actually care what the rules are or what the outcome is...

  15. Michael C

    Simple solutions

    1) any change in channel line-up that involves the removal of a channel that was available on the date a commitment contract was signed (or was added and maintained for more than 12 months, including nonconsecutively, during the uninterupted subscription term or for those without a contract commitment) becomes an opportunity for subscribers to terminate their contract early without any financial penalties what-so-ever (even ecluding return of prorated equipment costs or installation chanrges). In fairness, we'll limit this to "core" channels considered in the top 70 channels carying traditional programming, sports, news, or other event based programming, etc, basically the america's top 120 minus PPV, shopping, cable music (XM/serious/muzak/etc), and other non-traditional channels. Also, any channel that goes off the air completely and is no longer offered on any service or competitor at all can't be held against the provider (though a discount may satill apply below if it follows certain rules, but rebranded channels don't count).

    2) Any impending channel change involving removal (or downgrade, for instance dropping of HD while maintaining SD) of channels must be "confirmed" (not a "this possibly might happen") not less than 45 days prior to the effective date, providing subscribers ample time to change services, should they wish to. This would include channels added post contract commencement. (this also applies if adding channels increases the monthly price). once notice is given, even if the chanel does remain after further negotiation or agreements, any request to terminate service must still be honored within that 45 days after anouncement was made in writing to the customer (via received bill or notice, not contingent on some generic press release date they might not receive)

    3) removal of channels that are part of an existing package must result in a lowering of the monthly bill by not less than the per-subscriber cost for that channel. Each channel in the package must be itemized seperately and the total price of the chanels must equal the package price. (this need not equal what the provider pays for the channel, only a predetermined cost to the consumer itemized down to the channel level as part of a package). Channels may not be "swapped" in and out of a package in the idea that one replaces another either, each must be taken individually.

    4) addition of any channels to an existing package must be done either by a) leaving the package price the same, and modifying the individual channel costs that sum up to the current package price, b) making the channel optional to consumers as an ala-carte option, or c) providing it at no cost to existing contract customers, but adding the channels cost to new subscribers or those out of contract who have not had a price adjustment in more than 12 months.

    5) any channel added that is not part of basic cable, a single extended cable tier, the top premium tier (everything included except pay-packages) a pay channel tier (HBO, Shotime, etc), or a sports package (not a tier, but something like League Pass or MLB package), must be considdered optional. Channels added to base packages/tiers may not incur increased billing to customers during their price renewal period (not to exceed once per year), to a point greater than the difference between their current price and new subscriber price (excluding promotional discounts that last 6 months or less). ie. if i pay $49 a month, they add 4 new channels that I get for free in the interum, 12 months later they want to raise my rates to cover the cost of the new channels, but new subscribers also still pay $49 for the same package (if you excluded a $10 discount they get for 6 months), then they can in fact not raise my rates at all. If new subscribers paid $52, they could bump my by $3 to cover the new channels.

    In exchange for accepting these rules, we'll let them have selective output control under the following additional caveats: should a homeowner have incompatible equipment, the cable or sattelite firm must provide either an adapter to make their existing TV compatible (including replacing any rented equipment, or any equipment purchased from the provider like sattelite boxes or DVRs required to receive existing subscribed to services), provide any cables and installation necessary, or if the TV/stereo would not be compatible without replacement, they must enable the SOC-only content to be distributed on a non-encoded chanel to that subscriber. The only exception is pre-release DVD which need not be made available unencrypted, but all else above applies (if they enable it on any other non-pre-release-DVD chanels).

  16. disgruntled yank


    @skeptical i: Consider the New York Yankees: Babe Ruth, Baltimore, MD; Joe DiMaggio, San Francisco, CA; Mickey Mantle, Oklahoma; Roger Maris, North(?) Dakota; Yogi Berra, St. Louis, MO.

    Players stayed in one place for a long time during the days of the reserve clause because they had no power to do otherwise.

    But otherwise you are correct. Oh, to live in a city that can tell a franchise to take it or leave it.

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