Tuesday, February 1, 2011

CBS Rejects NFL Players Association Commercial

Bob Daraio
Broadcast Union News

The Associated Press reports that CBS rejected an NFL Players Association  TV Commercial, originally set to run during a CBS College Sports Network college football all-star game this weekend, because the message was connected to ongoing labor negotiations between the  NFL Player's Union and the NFL.

This anti-labor discrimination on the part of CBS is no surprise to those of us that understand that neither the progressive, "main stream", nor conservative media outlets have any interest in covering pro-worker, pro-union, events. Now the TV networks are refusing to allow unions to purchase commercial airtime to get labor's message out.

According to an article on the Sports Illustrated website SI.com, the 30-second commercial, which can be seen on YouTube, includes shots of empty seats and a padlocked gate at a stadium. After voice-overs say, "Let us play," and "Let them play," union president and former NFL Player Kevin Mawae says: "We want to play" and asks viewers to go to their website NFL Lockout to sign a petition on their behalf.

The Collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Player's Association will expire on  March 3, 2011. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Player's Union President DeMaurice Smith met last week to set up a series of negotiating sessions, both formal bargaining sessions and smaller group meetings, in an effort to reach a new contract and avoid the lockout threatened by the NFL owners.

The main issues are disputes over the players’ share of NFL revenue and the owners’ plan to lengthen the season to 18 regular-season games, increasing the risk of career ending player injuries.

George Atallah, the union's assistant executive director, said in a Monday interview, the ad was slotted to be shown four times on Saturday's CBS College Sports broadcast, a day before the Super Bowl. "Once they saw it and realized it had a CBA-oriented message, they decided they wouldn't air it," Atallah said in a telephone interview.

"We were told they didn't want any part of it. We went back to them and said, 'Why?' And they said, 'No,' a second time," Atallah said. He called the decision to reject the ad "disappointing" and said the union wouldn't produce a replacement commercial "because we neither have the time nor resources."

Rejecting the AD is evidence that anti-labor CBS sides with the league, but then CBS has a $622 million per year broadcast deal with the NFL. It is also no surprise that CBS officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Help Block The Lockout - Sign The Petition

NFLPA Executive Director of External Affairs, George Atallah, stated in an interview with Ad Age that the decision to pull the ad was “clearly indicative of the relationships the networks have with the league.”

This cozy relationship between the NFL and TV networks is illustrated by the $4 billion that the networks have promised the league, even if games aren’t played in 2011.

And if this relationship wasn’t already concerning enough, Alan Gould and Bryan Kraft of Evercore Partners, estimate that CBS is making a pretty penny off their NFL contract.

“Using company data and Evercore research, the analysts suggested that CBS is currently making a $146 million profit on its NFL contract,” the article from The Hollywood Reporter states. Gould and Kraft also estimate that by 2014, CBS could make a $293 million profit on the NFL.

This is profit far exceeds the amount that other TV networks are making – Fox $107 million, ESPN $83 million, and NBC $12 million.

The CBS deal is only a fraction of the NFL’s $4 billion annual revenue from television contracts. The companies that broadcast league games -- CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and DirecTV -- also have agreed to pay the NFL next season even if a lockout cancels games. The union filed a legal action against the league for this arrangement, accusing it of acting in bad faith during the negotiating process by purchasing a kind of lockout insurance.


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