Senators to Goodell: Broadcasts must include more areas

WASHINGTON - Senators have asked the NFL commissioner to make game broadcasts on the NFL Network available on free television to more fans.

The league has said it provides free broadcasts in the home cities of competing teams. But 13 lawmakers, including Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said in a letter this week to Roger Goodell that the NFL is too narrowly interpreting what a home city is.

"The policy leaves behind NFL fans across the country simply because they live outside cities to which the NFL has granted franchises," according to the letter made public yesterday. For example, the NFL does not consider the western Pennsylvania town of Johnstown part of the Steelers' home market, the letter said.

The senators want quick action so fans in every market receive free TV access to games played by their closest team or the team it has been historically aligned to. Eight games will air this season on the NFL Network, which is available in less than 40 percent of households. The league is in a dispute with major cable companies over whether they should carry the channel as part of a basic package. *