Sports Law Blog
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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

NFL Unhappy with Las Vegas Ads: The NFL expressed extreme displeasure with the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority ads purchased on the local CBS affiliates in five of the top seven markets during the Super Bowl. The NFL has called the ad, which promotes watching the Super Bowl in Las Vegas by saying "if only it were this much fun in Houston," a violation of league policy that prohibits gaming-related ad content. The advertising company responsible for the ads has attempted to buy national airtime during the Super Bowl the past two year, but both times the league intervened. By purchasing one of the few local ad slots in the top markets, LVCVA was able to reach a large audience while flying under the NFL's radar.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello was quoted as saying: "If we had known about it, we would have taken steps to stop it. Whatever our policies are relating to (national) advertising on our games extends to the local spots from the affiliates. There is no loophole." Aiello also said that steps will be taken to prevent similar local ad buys during next year's telecasts. In response, the advertising agency has said that the spots promote tourism, not gambling, and in no way violate the NFL's policy.

I do not know the specifics of the NFL's television agreement with the networks, but I assume that their authority to dictate what ads can and cannot be shown is a factor of this contract. I also do not know what remedies the contract provides for a violation, if indeed was is found. The NFL has stated that it considers the actions of a local affiliate to be an action of the network as a whole.