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FCC proposes elimination of blackout policy

The NFL’s blackout policy could soon be blacked out.

The Federal Communications Commissions officially has proposed the adoption of a rule preventing sports leagues from blacking out games.  It’s the first official step in a process that now welcomes commentary from the public regarding the issues.

“We propose to eliminate the sports blackout rules,” the FCC states at paragraph 29 of it Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  “With respect to professional football, the sport most affected by the sports blackout rules, it appears from the existing record that television revenues have replaced gate receipts as the most significant source of revenue for NFL clubs in the 40 years since the rules were first adopted.  Moreover, the record received thus far indicates no direct link between black outs and increased attendance at NFL games.

“The record also suggests that the sports blackout rules have little relevance for sports other than professional football, because the distribution rights for most of the games in these sports are sold by individual teams, rather than the leagues.  Finally, it appears that the sports blackout rules are unnecessary because sports leagues can pursue local blackout protection through private contractual negotiations.  Thus, it appears that the sports blackout rules have become obsolete.”

Multiple politicians have praised the move.

“The FCC’s unanimous vote today is a big victory for sports fans,” Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, via  “This June, Senator [Richard] Blumenthal and I sent a letter to FCC Acting Chair [Mignon] Clyburn, urging the Commission to move to eliminate the Sports Blackout Rule, which is no longer supported by facts or logic.”

McCain previously has argued that blackouts should be banned for any stadium built or maintained with public money.  The FCC’s proposed rule would apply to all venues.

The National Association of Broadcasters opposes the move, arguing that eliminating the blackout rules will drive events away from otherwise free television.

The NFL has had only one blackout this year, thanks in part to the ability of teams to reduce their minimum sales threshold to 85 percent of all non-premium seats.  Also, teams and/or their sponsors can purchase any unsold tickets at 34 cents on the dollar.

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30 Responses to “FCC proposes elimination of blackout policy”
  1. thesmartest1 says: Dec 18, 2013 10:09 PM

    About time, it never made sense anyway. Pure greed.

  2. whitecastleisafoodgroup says: Dec 18, 2013 10:14 PM

    This is one proposal by government to intervene in a public matter that I can completely agreed on.

  3. cinvis says: Dec 18, 2013 10:14 PM

    What blackout rule?

    signed Packer Fans

  4. harrisonhits2 says: Dec 18, 2013 10:15 PM

    Most of the stadiums are paid for with tax dollars. The teams often get a significant percentage of the food and beverage sales.

    The NFL is a “non-profit organization”, what a laugher.

    About time they got rid of blackouts.

  5. medialovesthecowboys says: Dec 18, 2013 10:19 PM

    The FCC finally doing something that helps people.

  6. lennydpocketqb says: Dec 18, 2013 10:22 PM

    Excellent! Now if they could break up the monopoly happening in the radio industry, we’d be in a better place as a society.

  7. granadafan says: Dec 18, 2013 10:27 PM

    The NFL is the only business in the world which prevents it’s customers from seeing/buying its product just because not enough people bought the product. Goodell can’t have it both ways by accepting billions in tv revenue and then prevent stations from showing the local team.

  8. padraighansen says: Dec 18, 2013 10:47 PM

    MLB’s is far worse than the NFL. About time they all end.

  9. padraighansen says: Dec 18, 2013 10:49 PM

    MLB’s is far worse than the NFL. About tine they all end.

  10. trytobnimble says: Dec 18, 2013 10:59 PM

    The proposed Los Angeles downtown stadium will be built with 100 percent private money.

  11. bmoreravens1012013 says: Dec 18, 2013 10:59 PM

    Keep the blackouts.

  12. RavenzGunnerz says: Dec 18, 2013 11:50 PM

    Blackout are anti competition imo. If there were competing league in the same city, they would not blackout. But because they are a monopoly, they feel like they can do whatever they want.

  13. dirtyharry44 says: Dec 18, 2013 11:51 PM

    Now if we can only get double headers each week on both FOX and CBS which would also eliminate the non competitive rule when the local team is playing at home one of the networks.

  14. gregmorris78 says: Dec 18, 2013 11:58 PM

    McCain had a good idea…


  15. sdnative1904 says: Dec 19, 2013 12:00 AM

    Don’t need the government to bail me out.

    Season tickets …… Standard.

  16. athwartships says: Dec 19, 2013 12:32 AM

    Oh….this is soooo over due. It’s not often I agree with the FCC on much, but this I back 100%.

  17. burbankvikings says: Dec 19, 2013 1:14 AM

    I Don’t understand why people are so against it. Go to the game if you don’t like it and you can see you favorite team. Normally only teams that have a horrible record and bandwagon fans are effected by this. If your team is being blacked out and you are still a die hard fan I’m sure you can find tickets for dirt cheap. So there’s no excuse to not to see a game if you are a true fan. Plus Blackouts are only for local markets. I rather have a stadium full of fans than a half empty stadium.

  18. bobnelsonjr says: Dec 19, 2013 3:57 AM

    The blackout rule would limit the availability of games to just the nearest team. Not everyone wants to suffer through Raider or viking games especially at this part of the season when lousy teams play meaningless low quality games.

    40% of NFL fans in Minnesota are Packers fans and they want to see the best games available and the teams that are still have a chance at winning the Super Bowl.

    Frankly, if a team can’t sell out their stadium they do not deserve to be on television (except for first 10 years for any expansion team).

  19. paardenoog says: Dec 19, 2013 5:35 AM

    Want to prevent empty stadiums? Lower your ticket pricing.

  20. gbfanforever says: Dec 19, 2013 6:51 AM

    And while we’re at it can we get rid of the leagues tax exempt status that makes no sense?

  21. coachbeck says: Dec 19, 2013 6:54 AM

    Yeah anything the progressive McCain wants…. We need to think twice

  22. steelersaregodsteam says: Dec 19, 2013 7:14 AM

    It only punishes the fans of the game. Get rid of it.

  23. flmike says: Dec 19, 2013 7:19 AM

    If not, let Congress yank all their anti-trust exemptions, then we’ll see some action…

  24. ericxchavoya says: Dec 19, 2013 7:43 AM

    Don’t make any difference here!

  25. exboomer says: Dec 19, 2013 7:55 AM

    The blackout rule has been used as a hammer to punish NFL fans who either can’t afford to buy tickets or are unable to attend due to work schedules or family commitments. And the NAB’s claim that eliminating the rule will drive events away from otherwise free TV is beyond stupid. It will increase the number of people who are watching games on TV which will increase the amount they can charge the NFL to carry them.

  26. spungy says: Dec 19, 2013 8:16 AM

    The concession lines at Paul Brown Stadium are about to get a whole lot shorter!

  27. pftbillsfan says: Dec 19, 2013 8:52 AM

    If they end the blackout rule you can say goodbye to small market teams that thrive on ticket revenue.

  28. catfish252 says: Dec 19, 2013 9:24 AM

    Yea FCC — Boo NFL

  29. unclebluck says: Dec 19, 2013 10:04 AM

    Meanwhile Russ Brandon and the Bills who have not fielded a playoff team in 15 years will blackout this weeks game vs archrival Miami….put a winning team on the field in Buffalo and you are guaranteed a sold out season. Brandon would rather just stuff more money in his $ Ralphs pockets…..

  30. whentheleveonbreaks says: Dec 19, 2013 10:36 AM

    Now if only the NFL would start paying its fair share of taxes…..

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