This study used second-level agenda-setting and agenda-building theory as a framework for investigating media coverage of the NFL Network carriage dispute and how NFL and cable operators attempted to frame this issue via their respective public relations efforts. National, regional, and trade media stories over a 2-year period were content analyzed along with corporate press releases. Results indicated that the NFL and cable operators in particular were framed negatively in media coverage. However, the percentage of positive media stories was much higher for the NFL than for the cable operators. The findings suggest that initially the NFL was more effective in having its messages resonate with the media than were the cable operators. As the issue evolved over time and fans were faced with the prospect of missing key games, the media framing of the debate shifted the blame from the cable companies to both cable operators and the NFL.
Seltzer is with the Public Relations Dept., Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. Dittmore is with the Health Science, Kinesiology, Recreation and Dance Dept.,University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR.