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The Big Leagues Go to WashingtonCongress and Sports Antitrust, 1951-1989$
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David George Surdam

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039140

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039140.001.0001

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The NFL’s Big Television Score 1961

The NFL’s Big Television Score 1961

Chapter:
(p.178) 12 The NFL’s Big Television Score 1961
Source:
The Big Leagues Go to Washington
Author(s):

David George Surdam

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252039140.003.0012

This chapter focuses on the National Football League's (NFL) bid for an antitrust exemption regarding its national television contract. The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the American Football League (AFL) already had national television contracts in place before the NFL negotiated its contract with Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). However, the NFL was the only league called before a congressional subcommittee on antitrust to defend its national television contract. Although the Congressional hearings of 1961 pertaining to “Telecasting of Professional Sports Contests” occurred at the behest of the NFL, the bills, H.R. 8757 and S. 2427, covered the four major professional team sports. This chapter first considers NFL teams' television revenues prior to 1961 before discussing NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle's negotiations with CBS over a new television contract and the hearings on the issue of antitrust exemptions that led to the passage of H.R. 8757, signed by President John F. Kennedy on October 10, 1961.

Keywords:   television contracts, National Football League, Columbia Broadcasting System, Congressional hearings, H.R. 8757, professional team sports, television revenue, Pete Rozelle, antitrust exemptions

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