The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Packers TV bill reintroduced


September 12, 2019


HURLEY, Wis. — A Wisconsin senator is trying again to address the issue of border towns not being able to watch some Green Bay Packer games when local stations in neighboring states air other games instead.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., re-introduced S.2454, the “Go Pack Go Act” that requires cable, satellite and other video providers to offer Wisconsin subscribers access to programming from broadcast television stations in a Wisconsin media market.

“Every Packers fan across our state should be able to watch every Packers game,” Baldwin said in a Tuesday announcement.

The Duluth-Superior media market includes five Wisconsin counties of Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Iron and Sawyer. The Twin Cities media market serves seven Wisconsin counties of Burnett, Washburn, Polk, Barron, St. Croix, Dunn and Pierce.

The 2019 regular season broadcasting schedule for the Packers includes 10 games on the Fox network, two games on ESPN, two games on CBS and two games on NBC. Packers games on Sept. 22 (week three), Nov. 10 (week 10), Dec. 8 (week 14), and Dec. 29 (week 17) have conflicts that prioritize Vikings games on Minnesota stations when a Packers game is broadcast the same time on the same network.

As of Wednesday, the language of the Go Pack Go Act legislation was not entered on the Congressional website, The introduction states the bill is to amend the Communications Act of 1934 and Title 17, United States Code, to provide greater access to in-state television broadcast programming for cable and satellite subscribers in certain counties.

Similar legislation was introduced by Baldwin in 2018, but never made it to the committee. The bill aimed to require cable operators or satellite carriers to allow subscriber preference in the aforementioned counties to choose the Packer games and other Wisconsin-based programming that does not normally air on the Minnesota affiliate stations of the local cable package.

Packer fans can head to a tavern and restaurant as an alternative. Tavern owners often provide premium channels to attract Packers fans and pay fees for the number of televisions and occupancy limits in addition to the subscription prices for the NFL package.

Jay Hengtgen, owner of Burgers Bar & Grill, in Gile, said this NFL season is better than most as far as stations not airing Packer games. He still pays $150 a month for satellite service and $800 more as the NFL package fee for a business to ensure customers will not miss a game.

If he turned on the fifth television the fee would be $1,300, he said.

“I did the math and turned off one TV,” Hengtgen said. “It still takes a while to make back that $800.”

There is a similar deal to air the Badger Channel or the Major League Baseball package in a bar, he said.

“That ain’t cheap,” Hengtgen said.

Fans at home have the option of subscribing to NFL premium packages on the cable, satellite or online streaming services. All the Packers games are available this way but for a premium.

Local cable companies across the region and state provide customers with network programming as part of basic cable service and offer NFL Ticket and Red Zone packages as a premium extra for access to all NFL games. The two major satellite companies provide Duluth as the local network affiliates for the Gogebic Range, and offer the same NFL premium packages for a higher price.


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