Paying a ‘Sports Tax,’ Even if You Don’t Watch
The New York Times
By BRIAN STELTER and AMY CHOZICK
December 15, 2011
Are you ready for some football?
You are paying for it regardless.
Although “sports” never shows up as a line item on a cable or satellite bill, American television subscribers pay, on average, about $100 a year for sports programming — no matter how many games they watch. A sizable portion goes to the National Football League, which dominates sports on television and which struck an extraordinary deal this week with the major networks — $27 billion over nine years — that most likely means the average cable bill will rise again soon.
Those spiraling costs are fraying the formerly tight bonds between the creators and distributors of television. Cable channels like ESPN that carry games are charging cable and satellite operators more money, and broadcast networks are now doing the same, demanding cash for their broadcast signals and using sports as leverage.
And higher fees are raising concerns across the industry that cable bills may be reaching the breaking point for some consumers who are short of money.
The N.F.L. contracts announced this week “will surely enrich N.F.L. owners and players just as much as it will impoverish all pay TV subscribers, particularly those who will never watch an N.F.L. game,” said Matthew M. Polka, the president of the American Cable Association, which represents small cable operators. His group wants government officials to step in and make it harder for channel owners to demand higher fees for carriage and drop the channels when operators disagree.
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The New York Times: Paying a ‘Sports Tax,’ Even if You Don’t Watch
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