NBC/Comcast, NHL to Boston: Screw you

On Monday, the mayor's office announced the city would be showing the Winter Classic Bruins hockey game on a big screen in Copley Square.

But the Globe reports that NBC/Comcast has blocked the outdoor viewing because it owns the exclusive rights to the telecast and it's not going to let a bunch of people just watch it in a park.

Also: Petition to let Rene Rancourt sing the national anthem.

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60000 fans at Foxboro

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Should all turn their backs to the singer during the Anthem. Or try to drown them out. Rene Rancourt for-evah!

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Why?

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What did that guy do?

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Thank you NBC!

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Keep meatheads bruins fans in foxoboro and in their homes in the burbs.

Don't come to boston and lower the quality of life!

THANK YOU NBC!

GO HABS!!!

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It's just a troll, probably a

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It's just a troll, probably a transplant unhappy with rent.

Also, most South Boston transplants will be living back in the suburbs after 5 years anyway.

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NBC

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This is almost as bad as them not letting Rene Rancourt sing and having the voice winner do it

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Can I blame Marty or no?

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Did they think they'd secured permission only to have it revoked or did the city just assume this was ok and proceeded with their plans? Based on his track record, I'd assume the later but either way it's a bummer.

Sometimes this administration seems to think they have carte blanche to do stuff around the city. I don't envy them though - I'm sure at every step of the way trying to get pretty much anything done here, there are people coming out of the woodwork with various rules, regulations, jurisdiction issues, etc... Boston is needlessly complicated (see policing, seaport)

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Here's the press release Walsh's office sent out on Monday

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BOSTON - Monday, December 21, 2015 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh and First Night/First Day Boston, in partnership with the National Hockey League announced today that the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on January 1, 2016 will be live streamed in Copley Square for First Day attendees. The Boston Bruins will face off against the Montreal Canadiens at 1:00 p.m. at Gillette Stadium. For First Night/Day, Copley Square will be decorated with ice sculptures and festive decor.

"I am grateful to First Day/First Night and the NHL for teaming up to put on this special event in the city," said Mayor Walsh. "The City of Boston is home to some of the best sports teams and the best fans in the country, and there is no better way to watch the Boston Bruins defeat the Montreal Canadiens than on a big screen TV in Copley Square."

The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is an annual event held by the National Hockey League in which two teams play outdoors, and has become a New Years Day tradition for all of the hockey fans. And this year, Boston is making NHL history, as the Bruins are the first team in the league to host this signature game for a second time.

This live streaming is a partnership between First Night / First Day Boston and the National Hockey League, allowing fans the chance to enjoy the First Day programming while watching the game.

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Seriously, no-one checked with the rights holder?

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I'm equally surprised the NHL was all 'sounds great, let's do it!' without checking with their rights holder.

Why would the city even need to clear this with the NHL? Seems like it would be the Bruins, NBC and the city deciding this.

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No Rene??

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I hadn't heard that yet.

Do you know what the sound of 70,000 fans booing is, NBC? Because you're about to.

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True, but at least we got

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True, but at least we got James Taylor (whom I don't care for one iota).

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NBC already knows

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They hear it every year during the presentation of the Stanley Cup by Gary Bettman.

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comcast monopoly

Let's ask Marty to open the cable market in the city. Given that almost everyone has Comcast why should they care that we want to watch tv outside anyway?

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Who

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is asking to break into the Boston market? Fios said they weren't interested.

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RCN?

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Doesn't serve my particular neighborhood (East Fenway), it would be good if I had at least one other choice besides Comcast. When I lived in Allston we had a choice and it helped me negotiate better rates..

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RCN had to seek permission to

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RCN had to seek permission to not cover the entire city. They also are not currently interested in expanding.

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You're lucky

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I think I read somewhere that RCN actually only covers about a third of Boston households.

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"Free" Market

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I think its even less than that because even if they cover the neighborhood, if they don't have an agreement with a building to wire into it, then they are not an option even if their lines go right by.

But then RCN also is not a very good alternative. Nor is any other cable company that is not around here anyhow. Times Warner, for example, is even worse.

Comcast has the best stuff in terms of channel line ups and UI and unified services.
They just have horrible pricing and customer service.

Really the best option is to just seize Comcast as part of a larger move to nationalize all utilities. And in doing so change the way they handle pricing and funding. Back to the Ma Bell days as it were.

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Nationalize? You mean create

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Nationalize? You mean create a VA style cable company?

That's probably the only possible way to make the service and customer service worse than it already is besides outsourcing the infrastructure to North Korea.

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Boston to Comcast:

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Boston to Comcast:

Good luck renewing your franchise agreement.

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Comworst

If this does poison their contracts, too bad it takes a Hockey snub and not decades of shitty customer service to get to that.

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They'll write a campaign

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They'll write a campaign check to Marty and give concessions to their unions and all will be forgiven except customer grievances.

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Once more, incompetence from

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Once more, incompetence from Marty Walsh. No Marty, you can't give away someone else's stuff for free just because you're the mayor.

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...uh, it's being broadcast

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...uh, it's being broadcast on NBC. NBC is available with just rabbit ears, it is broadcast for free over the airwaves. You do not need any cable subscription whatsoever.

This is a free broadcast.

It is literally being given away for free by the people who own it.

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No, it doesn't work that way.

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No, it doesn't work that way. Private viewership is one thing, but public exhibition of it to a large audience is different whether it sounds fair or not.

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I don't see what Comcast's

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I don't see what Comcast's gfipe in this is. I mean this isn't a PPV event right? Most of the viewers will most likely be Comcast subscribers and they few that aren't aren't likely to subscribe just for one game.

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Really

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Are sports bars not allowed to show it too?

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Its actually Free To a Air,

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Its actually Free To a Air, Comcast is only involved because they own NBC.

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They don't even need to be

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They don't even need to be Comcast subscribers! The game is being broadcast on NBC, which is available over air.

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OTA isn't free

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It costs your eyeballs.

Presumably people going to watch it in Copley can't be counted in WHDH's ad numbers, which means they get yelled at by local advertisers.

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Wouldn't people in Copley see the same commercials

as they would at home? No loss to the TV station or to advertisers. If I happen to be filling out a ratings diary that day and I watched the TV in Copley Square, I'd still report that I was watching Channel 7 during those hours, even though I'm not at home.

(If the city planned to mute or blackout the TV during commercials, NBC or WHDH could reasonably complain, but I doubt the city would do that.)

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For now...

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Over the air... for now... NBC is possibly dropping WHDH (Ch 7) and moving to cable, such as NECN which it is looking at purchasing. If so there would be no over-the-air station in the Boston market for NBC network programming.

There has also been some talk of NBC moving to a low-power over-the-air station as well but nothing is cast in stone as yet.

Since the advent of digital TV and lots of deregulation you may be surprised to learn that there is no law requiring any TV station send over-the-air signals.

Indeed how many times have we, in the last decade, lost over-the-air signals due to transmitter or antenna problems that took months to fix? Their signal to the cable industry was never interrupted. Didn't know about the over-the-air losses? No one did. I didn't know until I called a couple of the stations to see what was going on. They never said anything on their web sites - nor planned to.

We need to be concerned.

I suggest bottling air we breath and build up a storehouse as that will likely be the next thing we will be charged for.

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Embarrassing

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I agree with letting Rene sing, but: couldn't the guy who wrote the petition at least have proofread it first? Or maybe let someone who actually knows how to spell and put sentences together take a look at it? Sending that to NBC is pretty embarrassing.

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Bigger Picture

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I think our concept of trademark / ownership has swung too far.

I agree artists should own their work, but if you carefully follow some of the restrictions on a DVD, the 'limited rights' even prohibits showing the movie to a group in a nursing home or (for instance) to a ship's crew in their break room.

While I"m not a legal expert, I think it's illegal for a bar to just play MP3s or a CD as background music.

If the game was to be shown in Copley, then guess what; the commercials would still be shown. So as far as I'm concerned, NBC & NHL are still getting their value from those sponsors. (Comcast might not be, but cry me a river)

We've let lawyers, lobbyists and fine print take over the world. Our legislators are at fault, and we (voting for them over and over) are at fault by extension.

Humbug.
Pffffft.

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I disagree with Comcast

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But you are a bit off here.

Big money goes into presenting these events. A large revenue stream is ad revenue, which is based on viewership, which in turn is based on number of TV sets tuned in. While Comcast is being pound foolish (looking greedy by not allowing this, while ESPN has allowed soccer matches to be viewed at Government Center), they do need the pennies.

So no, Comcast owns the rights to the broadcast, which is how they recoup their costs.

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Petitioning the Mayor

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to start proceedings to take over all Comcast infrastructure by eminent domain. We can then build out their fiber network and do the last mile, which they refuse to do. Make money from leasing space to ISP's wanting to compete.

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No FiOS, No License

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Is CABLE TV regulated by the State or only the FCC? I thought municipalities set conditions for a CABLE TV FRANCHISE.

Nevertheless, a license agreement cost a pretty penny and a public showing of a sporting event without permission is out of the legal question.

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This isn't about Comcast!

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Or the Mayor!

People, please read the article. The NHL has a viewing clause that does not allow regular season free public viewing of games. End. Of.

If I were a betting man, I'd wager this is due to contracts related to the season-long permits sold to on-premise sports bars and beer distributors/producers.

If there was a loophole that could've been built into this specific event to allow free public viewing in Boston, Kraft and others at Gillette stadium in Foxborough certainly didn't care about it.

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Not enforceable?

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This game is being shown on NBC, a broadcast network using public airwaves, our public airwaves. They are bouncing off of you even now. You provide them the license to be able to operate, via your partial ownership of the FCC. Unlike England where they have to pay a fee to see their own airwaves, viewing NBC is free. If you want to rig together your own antenna, signal processor and screen, nobody can stop you.

The definition between doing that and wiring a TV in Copley with the signal for everyone for free is meaningless (except that we've allowed them to draft statements declaring such analogous activities civilly distinct...to whose benefit?). As long as absolutely nothing about the event is sponsored or sold to you, then it's indistinguishable from having a living room big enough to house a few hundred people and a pair of rabbit ears (or whatever those digital antennas are called these days).

If we the people want to get together to watch our airwaves as a group, as a city, the "rules" should allow for it without permission of anyone. If the NHL, Comcast, NBC, or anyone else doesn't like it, they should fuck off to their private corporate hellscape alone. They need us more than we need them.

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No argument here

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I agree with you 100%. The contracts are in place between these corporations to prevent this public viewing from happening, but yeah, it's up to the city to determine whether they want to recognize those contracts, largely based on the points you've made. Corporate privatization of public commons is nothing new, but it should be defended.

I'd love it if the city blew this off and went ahead with the public viewing. Do something right for the citizens and just pay the fine. Or fight it.

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What public commons though?

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The NHL game 35 miles away is a private event you have to pay for. This isn't like the Bruins are running a parade on public streets and then trying to charge the public for viewing here. There are not public commons being privatized. That would be if the NHL/Comcast closed Copley for the public to charge admission or something.

This would be cool if it happened, but let's not start claiming we have a right to view it in the public square just because we want to.

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Commons

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The airwaves are the commons.

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Comcast makes it convenient

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You don't need Comcast to see NBC. A day of tuning to be sure you won't lose the digital over-the-air signal and a big TV, that's it.

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It is about the Mayor though and the NHL and First Night/Day

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In that they all apparently publicized this as done deal yesterday without confirming it was permissible.

I'm not blaming them for it not happening, but I think it speaks to competence in that it was clearly prohibited and yet no-one realized that prior to hitting send on the press release.

Step 1- can we get Copley Square? Check.
Step 2 - can we get a big video screen to show the game. Check.
Step 3 - can we get authorization to do this. Er....?

Doesn't seem like too much work, does it?

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Mayor Walsh needs to concentrate

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On getting the T back to functioning, which it currently is not, before the winter storms, again, shut down the pathetic T.
Thanks to Charlie Baker, has not at the least been fixed.

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It's about time Chuck's name came up

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He nearly got away with this.

But I agree. As the T struggles over the years to come, we will all point to the great winter classic public viewing debacle of 2015 and wish Marty's av club person had done a bit more legwork.

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Who?

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The Mayor and City of Boston have no say on the MBTA. It is a state agency. They can bitch and moan just like us, or maybe try to press the envelope by saying they represent us but they have no specific power or authority over the MBTA what so ever. no municipal body has.

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Not quite true

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Aside from the bully pulpit of being the mayor of the largest (by far) community in the MBTA district, Walsh also has to sign an annual budget that includes a fairly sizable MBTA assessment ($83 million for the current fiscal year). He's in a position to make some noise if he wanted to.

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What about millionaire

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Restaurant owners? Toy company owners? Movie stars? Movie theater owners? Musicians? Billionaire amusement park companies?

It's a form of entertainment. Those playing have a particular skill that people enjoy seeing performed. The owners take financial risks in creating/running teams that allow those performers to perform.

You sound like a barrel of fun.

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Interesting point I haven't seen brought up yet

It seems like every season, at least one of the cities playing in the cup finals broadcasts games somewhere outside in that city, many right outside the arena. I believe Toronto even did this for some of round 1 against the B's in 2013. NBC Sports gets these games as well (though local stations like NESN also get earlier rounds). I know the globe article specifically says "regular season," but we all know the network wouldn't have an issue with any other game.

As disappointing as it is, nobody should be surprised at Comcast caring about nobody but Comcast here.

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