CBS 21 regrets to inform fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers that Sunday's game at 1 p.m. against the Cincinnati Bengals will not be shown in the Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York television market.
CBS 21 is scheduled to air the Baltimore Ravens' game at Cleveland at 4:05 p.m., instead.
Why can't CBS 21 air both games?
We're designated a Baltimore Ravens secondary market by the National Football League, meaning we must show the Ravens when they're on the road.
In addition, FOX has the doubleheader this Sunday -- and not CBS. Since CBS stations are allowed to show only one game, we must show the Ravens' road game, per NFL rules. (There's more information on how doubleheaders are determined below).
Here's answers to some frequently-asked questions I see posted on cbs21.com and our Facebook page.
Question: This is Pennsylvania, not Maryland; why does the NFL consider us a Ravens market?
Answer: This television market is designated a Ravens "secondary market" due to our proximity to Baltimore. A secondary market is defined as any market which is 75 miles from an NFL team. Obviously, York County falls within that 75 mile radius.
Again, in a secondary market, a TV station must show that club's road games.
If Baltimore was playing Cleveland at home (and not on the road), CBS 21 could have chosen to air the Steelers' game as its single game.
The NFL figures fans of the Ravens living within a secondary market can attend the game in-person; that's why CBS 21 has some leeway when Baltimore has a home game.
We can choose to air a Steelers' game and we always do. Again, there is no choice this coming Sunday.
The subject of "secondary market" and that 75 mile radius recently came up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, according to The Journal Gazette. The local station there decided not to air an Indianapolis Colts' home game, even though Fort Wayne is a secondary market for the Colts.
As noted in the article, the station had that right because secondary markets are only required to show a road game. That's why we must show the Ravens' road contest on Sunday; rather than the Steelers.
Question: Why doesn't CBS 21 try and do something about this?
Answer: Representatives from CBS 21 have spoken with the NFL and CBS in the past. I've also been told a local Steelers fan club once presented the league with a petition with 20,000-40,000 signatures.
Obviously, the league is standing by its broadcast rules.
Question: Why can't CBS 21 air the Steelers on CBS 21 and the Ravens on another channel, like CW 15 or My21.2?
Answer: The National Football League has a $1 billion deal with Direct TV, according to The Wall Street Journal. That's billion...with a "b." Direct TV pays the NFL $1 billion a year for the exclusive right to sell the Sunday Ticket package, which allows customers to see every NFL game on Sundays, as opposed to simply the games shown on local broadcast channels.
Allowing local stations like CBS 21 to air a Steelers game on one channel and a Ravens game on our other channels would obviously ruin that deal.
Have you ever heard of anyone jeopardizing a $1 billion/year contract? Me neither.
Prior to the season, the National Football League determines on which weekends CBS or FOX will air a doubleheader -- two NFL games on the same network. The schedule breaks down likes this:
Week 1 - FOX DH
Week 2 - CBS DH
Week 3 - FOX DH
Week 4 - CBS DH
Week 5 - CBS DH
Week 6 - FOX DH
Week 7 - FOX DH
Week 8 - CBS DH
Week 9 - FOX DH
Week 10 - FOX DH
Week 11 - CBS DH
Week 12 - CBS DH
Week 13 - FOX DH
Week 14 - CBS DH
Week 15 - CBS DH
Week 16 - FOX DH
Week 17 - Both CBS and FOX have doubleheaders
As noted above, this Sunday, December 4 (Week 13), is designated a FOX doubleheader weekend by the NFL; which means CBS is allowed to show only one game that day (while FOX airs two games).
Due to the fact this television market is designated a Ravens "secondary market" -- based on our proximity to Baltimore -- CBS 21 must air the Ravens' games when the team is on the road, per NFL broadcast rules.
Had CBS had the doubleheader on Sunday, December 4, and not FOX, this wouldn't have been an issue: CBS 21 could have carried the Steelers at 1 p.m. and shown the Ravens at 4 p.m., as well.
I hope that explanation makes sense.
CBS 21 is happy it can accommodate fans of the Baltimore Ravens. We also understand the frustration of Steelers fans in instances like this one.
By the way, this same scenario will happen one more time this season: the last regular weekend of the season, on January 1. CBS 21 will have to air the Ravens road game at Cincinnati, rather than the Steelers' game in Cleveland.