Down, Set, Frame: Second-Level Agenda Building and the NFL Network Carriage Dispute

Trent Seltzer, Stephen W. Dittmore
<span title="">2009</span> <i title="Human Kinetics"> <a target="_blank" rel="noopener" href="" style="color: black;">International Journal of Sport Communication</a> </i> &nbsp;
This study used second-level agenda-setting and agenda-building theory as a framework for investigating media coverage of the NFL Network carriage dispute and how NFL and cable operators attempted to frame this issue via their respective public relations efforts. National, regional, and trade media stories over a 2-year period were content analyzed along with corporate press releases. Results indicated that the NFL and cable operators in particular were framed negatively in media coverage.
more &raquo; ... er, the percentage of positive media stories was much higher for the NFL than for the cable operators. The findings suggest that initially the NFL was more effective in having its messages resonate with the media than were the cable operators. As the issue evolved over time and fans were faced with the prospect of missing key games, the media framing of the debate shifted the blame from the cable companies to both cable operators and the NFL. The NFL Network aired its first live regular-season game on November 23, 2006, despite limited nationwide distribution. At the time, only about 40 million of the nearly 111 million U.S. television households had access to the NFL Network, which incited a public debate. At issue was whether the NFL Network's desire to be carried on a basic cable tier was in the best interest of the consumer because not all cable subscribers are fans of the NFL and want the programming. The counterargument concerned whether cable operators were deliberately targeting the NFL Network for exclusion. This study investigates not only how the media framed the NFL Network carriage debate but also how the NFL and cable operators attempted to frame the issue via their public relations efforts. Second-level agenda-setting and agendabuilding theories offer a framework for considering the interplay of the framing attributes used to construct media coverage of the NFL Network carriage issue. This study provides insights into how the two sides in this dispute competitively used information subsidies to implement their respective framing strategies. Fur-Seltzer is with the Public Relations Dept., Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. Dittmore is with the Health Science, Kinesiology, Recreation and Dance Dept.,University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR.
<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href="">doi:10.1123/ijsc.2.3.340</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="">fatcat:xtiskzgktvc45jhq4m7ntrk5nm</a> </span>
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