Sports | August 14, 2020 11:12 am

NFL May Need Federal Permission to Broadcast Saturday Games

The NFL may want to move some of its games if there is no college football

Goodell NFL BLM
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media during a press conference on January 29, 2020 in Miami, Florida.
Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

With a good portion of major college football programs (Big Ten, Pac-12) canceling their fall seasons and the rest (SEC, ACC, Big 12) still considering doing the same, the NFL is looking into the possibility of moving some of its games to Saturdays in the fall.

To do so, the league might have to get permission from the U.S. government.

A portion of the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, which was passed to allow sports organizations. exemption from the Sherman Antitrust Act, prohibits the NFL from broadcasting its games in certain time windows, according to CNBC.

According to Chapter 32 in Title 15 of the United States Code, the NFL is prohibited from airing its content on Friday evenings beginning at 6 p.m. or “during the period beginning on the second Friday in September and ending on the second Saturday in December in any year from any telecasting station located within seventy-five miles of the game site of any intercollegiate or interscholastic football contest scheduled to be played.”

That would seem to explain why the NFL is allowed to broadcast games on Saturdays at the end of December as well as into January once the playoffs begin.

Government permission aside, it sounds as if the NFL would be leery of moving games to Saturday if college football is being played and there are objections from the NCAA.

“The league would be unlikely to pursue Saturday games, which could require a waiver of restrictions under its broadcast-related exemption from antitrust laws, if even just a few college football conferences are playing in the fall,” according to The Washington Post.

With the status of high school football across the country also in flux, moving some NFL games to Friday nights could also be in play.

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