‘NFL Sunday Ticket’ Fees on Hold While Lockout Continues

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With the National Football League’s
labor dispute approaching a third full month, there appeared
to be signs of movement toward a resolution last week.

In the meantime, DirecTV, the rightsholder to the out-ofmarket
“NFL Sunday Ticket” package, informed subscribers
on Thursday (June 2) that they would not have to pay until it
is confirmed that the 2011 season will indeed kick off .

The No. 1 satellite-TV provider, which pays some $1.1 billion
for Sunday Ticket rights, disseminated a mass e-mail
message to package subscribers disclosing that payments
would be forestalled until there is a settlement.

Once a new labor package has been reached, the satellite-
TV provider will begin charging
in installments, as it always does.
Should the work stoppage cause the
cancellation of any games, DirecTV
will adjust the price accordingly.

The e-mail directed subscribers
to the DirecTV.com site for additional

On Thursday, a CBSSports.com
story, citing multiple sources familiar with the negotiations,
indicated that the NFL owners and the players might be progressing
toward labor peace within a few weeks.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association
executive director DeMaurice Smith, as well as a
number of owners and players association officials, met last
Wednesday and Thursday in Chicago with federal mediator
U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan to try to bridge some
of their signifi cant differences. With the parties engaged in
“confidential settlement,” Boylan canceled mediation sessions
that were scheduled for June 7-8.

Last Friday (June 3), the Associated Press reported that a
three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
St. Louis heard arguments on the legality of the lockout. The
same panel has upheld the lockout twice before, overruling
a judge in Minnesota, the AP said.

Unable to bridge a large financial gap through negotiations,
the NFL, a $9 billion industry, locked out its players
on March 11.