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Our View: Local Packer fans again denied TV games

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opinion River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

With the National Football League starting this week, Packer fans are again facing a blackout involving their favorite team on television.

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Each year Packer games are blacked out when they conflict with Minnesota Viking televised games. Of course that’s because while in theory the Hudson area is part of Wisconsin, in reality we fall under the TV marketing fiefdom of the Twin Cities and the Vikings of Minnesota.

Oddly enough, some Hudson residents – namely in the town of Hudson – get Packer broadcasts. The city is served by Comcast Cable TV; the town of Hudson is served by Baldwin Telecom. Apparently the town, and Baldwin Telecom, is just far enough away to fall outside the Vikings’ television area.

Some members of the local media have argued against this perverse, fan unfriendly system and have called for changes of this situation since the 1990s. Among other communities, River Falls faces the same dilemma.

Over the years, several lawmakers have promised to work with the NFL and the Federal Communications Commission “to remedy the situation.”

But there’s been no remedy, and now another season of blackouts looms. If nothing else, the issue again underscores the power of the NFL.

According to Comcast cable, which is not the villain in this matter, there are a whopping seven blackouts looming in the Packer 2014 TV schedule -- and that includes the final three games of the regular season!

Now that could change as the season unfolds. The NFL’s “flex schedule” begins Oct. 5. That means games and broadcast schedules may change depending on match ups and key games down the stretch.

The flexing could free up another Packer game or two for TV viewing, especially if the Packers are in the playoff hunt.

As of now, however, here are the potential blackouts:

--Sept. 21 against the Detroit Lions;

--Oct. 12 against the Miami Dolphins;

--Oct. 19 against the Carolina Panthers;

--Nov. 16 against the Philadelphia Eagles;

--Dec. 14 against the Buffalo Bills;

--Dec. 21 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers;

--and Dec. 28 against the Detroit Lions.

All blackouts are for Sunday noon games.

Fans can bypass the system by getting satellite service and paying for some sort of NFL package. That process, however, eliminates a large number of fans.

About the only people happy with the blackout situation are the bars and restaurants that pull in the games off satellite. The parking lots of those establishments are jammed during Packer black-out games!

Still, the continuing blackout saga is another slap in the face for Hudson and area fans from western Wisconsin who want, and expect, to see their “home team” on TV.

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