Press Releases

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Washington – Following a letter last week from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the National Football League today voluntarily agreed to let religious organizations televise the Super Bowl for congregational parties. Hatch was responding to reports that the NFL had challenged a number of churches about their practice of televising the Super Bowl on large screens for their members. In essence, this provides churches the same right as sports bars.

“I have been a long-time supporter of the rights of content owners as long as those rights are administered in a fair and nondiscriminatory way,” Hatch said. “I am grateful that this accommodation was made to allow the NFL to protect its copyrighted material, while respecting the interests of churches. Many families want to enjoy the Super Bowl in a group atmosphere – but obviously aren’t going to take their kids to a sports bar.”

In a letter sent last week to Commissioner Roger Goodell, Hatch asked the NFL to answer a number of questions about reports that it targeted churches for possible infringement of its copyright. Among other items, Hatch asked if other nonprofits have received the same scrutiny from the NFL, and exactly what actions the NFL plans to take against churches, which clearly are not profiting from showing the broadcast.

“Although the practice is uncommon in Utah, Super Bowl parties can be very beneficial for all involved,” Hatch said. “The parties help these organizations gather people together for a wholesome activity. The parties also no doubt increase total viewership as some will attend these gatherings who might otherwise not watch the game.”

In a letter sent to Hatch today, the NFL responds it will not object to live showings – regardless of screen size – of the Super Bowl by a religious organization when such showings are free and on premises used by the religious organization on a routine and customary basis. Moreover, the League states it does not believe that legislation is necessary for this purpose and will implement this policy unilaterally beginning with our next Super Bowl.