Live ‘Monday Night Football’ tradition could be spiked

PO’IPU – That time-honored tradition of digging out of work early on a Monday afternoon to catch the football game live via satellite in your favorite watering hole is a thing of the past.

Or is it? After getting wind that Honolulu TV station KITV-4 might pursue legal action against establishments showing “Monday Night Football” live via satellite – three and a half hours before KITV airs it delayed at 6:30 p.m. – some Kaua’i bars and restaurants are rethinking the Monday-afternoon money-maker.

“I probably wouldn’t show it if the guy has a legal right to it,” said Rich Jasper of JJ’s Broiler in Nawiliwili’s Anchor Cove Shopping Center.

Though he hasn’t made a final decision yet on whether or not to show the game live, he’s leaning toward not airing the game at 3 p.m.

“I get crowds in,” but not enough to justify a potential lawsuit that would cost him $200 an hour in attorney fees, Jasper said.

The game will go on as scheduled at Brennecke’s Beach Broiler across the street from Po’ipu Beach Park.

The game draws a mellow crowd, most of whom leave when the game ends at around 6 p.m.-which, coincidentally, is when the dinner crowd begins arriving, said a Brennecke’s spokeswoman.

“So far, we’re planning on showing it” live via satellite at 3 p.m., she said.

Pizzetta, in Old Koloa Town, has a new satellite dish system not yet installed, according to manager Bernadette Garcia.

Whether the game is aired live or delayed, it still draws a crowd, said Garcia. A decision has not been made on whether or not to use the satellite dish to air “Monday Night Football” live, she added.

The flap over viewing rights started when KITV-4 president and general manager Mike Rosenberg sent a letter to about 1,000 bars and restaurants registered with the state Liquor Commission. His letter warned that legal action would be taken against businesses that use satellite feeds to air live telecasts of the games, which begin Sept. 4.

No letters were sent to Kaua’i establishments, he said.

KITV owns the local copyrights to the telecast, and under federal copyright laws, the station could be entitled to actual damages, plus statutory damages of up to $100,000 for each telecast infringement, Rosenberg said.

Showing the game live in Hawaii costs KITV thousands of dollars a year in advertising revenue, as “Monday Night Football” airs during sweeps, the monitoring period when advertising rates are set.

But, in the lucky-you-live-in-Kaua’i category, Rosenberg said that since the signal comes to this island via translator versus transmitter, the station might not have the same legal right to sue establishments here that air the game live via satellite.

“Although we probably have the same rights there, we just decided not to pursue Kaua’i,” he said. But, he added, “It doesn’t mean necessarily that the bars on Kaua’i are free and clear. We would not actively pursue folks on Kaua’i. We still think that it’s the wrong thing for them to do, but we will not actively pursue them.

“I can’t speak for the NFL.”

Business editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or pcurtis@pulitzer.net

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