(KDKA) – ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro told reporters Friday that the sports network will not televise the national anthem as part of its Monday Night Football broadcasts this season.
Pitaro, who was hired March 5 to replace John Skipper, made the announcement at a media event on ESPN’s campus in Bristol, Conn.
ESPN did not previously show the national anthem during its Monday Night Football broadcasts and does not have plans to change, Pitaro said according to a USA Today report.
ESPN pays roughly $2 billion per year for the right to broadcast Monday Night Football, according to the Associated Press.
“We are not a political organization,” Pitaro said, via espnfrontrow.com. “We are always going to cover the intersection of sports and politics and sports and culture. We are the place of record for sports. We have to be the place of record, and our partners across the industry understand that. Covering sports in an exemplary fashion is our focus and priority.”
Player demonstrations during the national anthem have become a divisive issue since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the trend by taking a knee during the anthem in 2016.
The NFL and NFLPA are currently negotiating a new national anthem policy after the players’ association rejected a previously announced policy by the league.