INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL has nixed a church's plans to use a wall projector to show the Colts-Bears Super Bowl game, saying it would violate copyright laws.
NFL officials spotted a promotion of Fall Creek Baptist Church's "Super Bowl Bash" on the church Web site last week and overnighted a letter to the pastor demanding the party be canceled, the church said.
Initially, the league objected to the church's plan to charge a fee to attend and that the church used the license-protected words "Super Bowl" in its promotions.
Pastor John D. Newland said he told the NFL his church would not charge anyone and that it would drop the use of the forbidden words.
But the NFL objected to the church's plans to use a projector to show the game, saying the law limits it to one TV no bigger than 55 inches.
The church will likely abandon its plans to host a Super Bowl party.
"We want to be supportive of our local team," Newland said. "For us to have all our congregation huddled around a TV that is big enough only for 10 or 12 people to watch just makes little sense."
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league's long-standing policy is to ban "mass out-of-home viewing" of the Super Bowl. An exception is made for sports bars and other businesses that show televised sports as a part of their everyday operations.
"We have contracts with our [TV] networks to provide free over-the-air television for people at home," Aiello said. "The network economics are based on television ratings and at-home viewing. Out-of-home viewing is not measured by Nielsen."
It is also the reason no mass viewings are planned in large arenas like the RCA Dome or Conseco Fieldhouse.
Newland said his church won't break the law.
"It just frustrates me that most of the places where crowds are going to gather to watch this game are going to be places that are filled with alcohol and other things that are inappropriate for children," Newland said. "We tried to provide an alternative to that and were shut down."
Other Indiana churches said they are deciding whether they should go through with their Super Bowl party plans, given the NFL's stance.