WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN’s new president told reporters that the sports channel does not plan to televise the national anthem as part of its Monday Night Football broadcasts this season.
- ESPN pays about $2 billion yearly for the broadcast rights for Monday Night Football.
- Pitaro also noted that he wants to limit political commentaries and focus more on sports
On Friday, new ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro told reporters that the network does not plan to air the national anthem ahead of its Monday Night Football telecasts this season. He also added that the network does not intend to change these plans, at least, not in the near future.
Pitaro, 48, was named the president of the network on March 5, following the sudden exit of its former president John Skipper. Pitaro articulated that one of his top priorities has been to improve relations with the NFL which he says is incredibly important to them.
He added that although the league has not asked, ESPN has informed them already of their plans, out of courtesy as good partners.
According to Associated Press, ESPN pays about $2 billion yearly for the broadcast rights for Monday Night Football.
Ties between the network and the league have been strained due to the ESPN investigations into player concussions and the sports network’s section covering the players as they protest against police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. Such moves by the players have been denounced by critics including President Trump as disrespectful to the country.
Currently, the league and the NFL Players’ Association are working to create a policy that is mutually agreeable for both parties, for conduct during the national anthem. However, it is unclear that it will be unveiled before the regular season begins on September 6.
Later on Friday, Pitaro also reiterated that he wants to prioritize limiting political commentary and focus more on sports.
Reacting to the notion that ESPN is a political organization, he said, “I will tell you that I have been very, very clear with employees that it is not our jobs to cover politics, purely.”
He added that the network will continue to cover the intersections of sports, politics and culture.
Source: USA Today