After months of talk, the FCC could be poised for action.
According to Jerry Zremski of the Buffalo News, the FCC proposed on Friday eliminating the NFL’s blackout rule.
“Changes in the marketplace have raised questions about whether these rules are still in the public interest, particularly at a time when high ticket prices and the economy make it difficult for many sports fans to attend games,” said FCC acting chairwoman Mignon L. Clyburn.
The league said it will review the proposal.
“But it is worth noting that there have been no local TV blackouts of NFL home games through the first 133 games of the 2013 season,” league spokesman Greg Aiello added.
He’s right, but only because the NFL has softened the definition of a “sellout,” allowing teams to sell only 85 percent of all non-premium tickets in order to lift the local blackout. Also, several games have been televised this year because teams and/or sponsors bought he unsold tickets at 34 cents on the dollar.
Nearly two years ago, the FCC sought public comment on the possibility of eliminating the blackout rule. The league previously has said that the rule helps keep games on free television.
The billions of dollars the NFL earns for its broadcast rights surely helps keep the bulk of its games on free TV. Even then, two thirds of the weekly prime-time games are shown only on cable.
Earlier this year, Senator John McCain introduced legislation that would block blackouts in stadiums that were funded in whole or in part by taxpayer dollars.
In time, the FCC or Congress could finish the job that the late Richard Nixon first started more than 40 years ago.