Congress threatens NFL's antitrust exemption

I thought this was something interesting worth throwing out there, particularly if you don't have the NFL Network.  Apparently there's not enough to keep Congress busy, so they're threatening the NFL's antitrust exemption over this NFL Network/cable dispute.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., expressed concern that many fans in their home states will not be able to see games on the channel involving the New England Patriots or the Pittsburgh Steelers...

"Now that the NFL is adopting strategies to limit distribution of game programming to their own networks," they wrote, "Congress may need to reexamine the need and desirability of their continued exemption from the Nation's antitrust laws..."

Games are simulcast on free TV locally for each team, but that doesn't include regional markets such as Vermont for the Patriots or parts of Pennsylvania for the Steelers. NFL officials have repeatedly said they will not agree to any distribution arrangement that only involves games and not year-round broadcast of the channel.

While it'd be nice to get the NFL Network everywhere, I am always amused when Congress rolls out the antitrust exemption in their attempts to make things happen with any of the major sports.  That's one way they got baseball in to talk about the steroid issue.

I get the NFL Network, however it was recently moved from my cable package to the Sports Plus package, for which I have to pay $5 extra per month.  I did a little complaining and got an introductory rate of $3 plus a free year of HBO, so that is working out ok.  However, I can understand the annoyance for people who don't even have the option of paying for the NFL Network.  The 49ers game last weekend was simulcast on NBC, but I'm wondering how far that simulcast extended.  I know people in Sacramento have issues with getting certain A's games, so I'd guess it would be similar for other sports.

Anybody here able to answer that question?

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