Editorial: Kickoff woes for 2013: Eyes wide shut,here we go again
In a letter about Green Bay Packer TV blackouts addressed to a local constituent on Dec. 12, 1997, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind wrote: “...Packer games are deleted from the cable selection due to Federal Communications regulations, NFL policy, and rules regarding syndication exclusivity. ‘Syndicated’ programming refers to shows that are bought by networks for telecast over cable systems.
“Cable operators are only obligated to carry one station of any given network. If two or more stations of the same network exist on a cable menu, then the station closest to the city receives priority and stations farther away are deleted when syndicated programing (like sports broadcasting) is shown.
“...NFL policy states that all games involving a home team must be shown on the network affiliated station of that city. This means that the Minnesota Vikings games must be broadcast on Minnesota station...”
Kind, who represents western Wisconsin in Congress, wrote in the 1997 letter that he had contacted the FCC and NFL “to remedy the situation...I have also gathered support from other members of Congress to help solve this problem.”
Sixteen years later, Packer fans in River Falls and western Wisconsin are still waiting for the “remedy.”
Generally, Packer games are blacked out when they conflict with Viking games. When there is no conflict, the Twin Cities stations generally — but not always — show Packer games.
A spokesman with Comcast, the cable-TV provider for the Twin Cities, offered the following games that could be blacked out for the 2013 regular season. The televised schedule is tentative, based on decisions by the TV stations and new starting times for big games.
After the Packers season opener against the San Francisco 49ers is shown by Fox on national TV beginning at 3:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, the next two games are blacked out: Sept. 15 against the Washington Redskins, and Sept. 22 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
On Sept. 29 the Packers have a bye week, so they don’t appear on TV again until noon Sunday, Oct. 6, against the Detroit Lions. The following week there is another blackout on Oct. 13 against the Baltimore Ravens.
The final two blackouts don’t occur for another two months: Dec. 15 against the Dallas Cowboys, and the season finale, Dec. 29, against the Chicago Bears. As always, be aware that this televised schedule may change as the season progresses.
And, as always, thank you NFL for continuing your fan-unfriendly, misguided policy of depriving Wisconsinites of the chance to watch their home-state team play on TV.
Editor’s note: Packer games are broadcast on local radio. Many local bars and restaurants also carry Packer telecasts through a package deal of NFL games. Individuals can also buy these packages from their cable or satellite providers.