The three broadcast networks that air NFL games will seemingly use different approaches to the national anthem during NFL games this season.
According to USA Today, CBS, which primarily airs AFC games, does not plan to televise the playing of “The Star-Spangled” banner during its broadcasts. This is in line with what the network has done in previous years.
“Consistent with our past practices, we do not plan to show the anthem live,” a CBS representative told USA Today in an email. “We will be prepared to cover any story that is newsworthy as it develops.”
Fox, which primarily airs NFC games, plans to only televise the anthem during what it deems “special broadcasts,” such as Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and during the playoffs. The only time Fox aired the anthem last season was during the London game in Week 4.
NBC, whose “Sunday Night Football” topped TV ratings last year, told USA Today that its plans for televising the anthem are still undetermined. NBC will air the first game of the season on Thursday, Sept. 6.
“On occasion, we’ve covered the national anthem, but our plans aren’t finalized yet as we have an earlier kickoff time in 2018,” an NBC representative wrote in an email, referring to the fact that the network’s Sunday night games will start at 8:20 pm ET, which is 10 minutes earlier than last year.
Last week ESPN announced its plans for anthem coverage and it appears that CBS took a page out of the ESPN’s playbook.
During ESPN Football Media Day, network president Jimmy Pitaro said the plan is to not broadcast the anthem during its “Monday Night Football” games.
“We generally have not broadcasted the anthem and I don’t think that will change this year. Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem,” Pitaro said during ESPN Football Media Day, according to the Los Angeles Times.
President Trump criticized the network for not airing the anthem during a rally in Charleston, West Virginia.
Trump: "It was just announced by ESPN that rather than defending our anthem, our beautiful beautiful beautiful national anthem, and defending our flag, they've decided they they just won't broadcast when they play the national anthem. We don't like that." pic.twitter.com/HWsVr6j5jT
— Contemptor (@TheContemptor) August 21, 2018
The NFL itself has a similar situation as NBC, as the league is still undetermined on how it should handle the anthem.
In May, the league announced that its owners had approved a new policy requiring all players to stand during the anthem or remain in the locker room if they didn’t want to stand.
But the NFL Players Association responded by saying they weren’t given a vote in the new ruling, which led to further discussions between the players union and the league.
In July, according to Sports Illustrated, the NFL and the NFLPA issued a joint statement that said “no rules relating to the anthem will be issued for the next several weeks.”
With just two weeks to go before the start of the regular season, there have been no further updates on the anthem for the 2018 season.
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