Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Special Master Hearing on whether NFL breached Collective Bargaining Agreement in TV Contracts

University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Stephen Burbank, the Special Master of the NFL for grievances with the NFLPA, began a hearing today in New York City for a grievance filed by the NFLPA. The NFLPA alleges that the NFL breached its fiduciary duties under the CBA by -- according to the NFLPA -- taking less from TV networks for broadcast contracts in exchange for the guarantee that the NFL would be paid by those networks in 2011, regardless of whether there is a league lockout. The NFLPA characterizes the NFL's contract strategy as "lockout insurance" and claim that it contradicts the CBA. The NFL, in contrast, argues that it did not breach any duties and, moreover, that it has discretion in its business decisions for broadcast contracts. If the NFLPA wins, it would provide added motivation to NFL owners to agree on a new CBA before the current one expires on March 4.

I was interviewed by Public Radio's Marketplace show this morning to discuss the hearing - for an interview transcript and link to audio, click here.