FCC chairman says they’ll vote Sept. 30 to kill blackout rule


The NFL is not having a very good couple of days.

In an op-ed written for USA Today, Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler said that the agency would vote on Sept. 30 to kill the television blackout rule which the league has fought to protect.

“With the first weekend of professional football in the books, two things should be abundantly clear,” Wheeler wrote. “The NFL is king; and the Federal Communication Commission’s sports blackout rules are obsolete and have to go.”

Blackout rules were instituted in 1975 to drive fans off their couches in front of free television and to the games with a paid ticket.

But only two games were blacked out last year, and the NFL is raking in television money hand-over-fist, so the need to government intervention seems a bit outdated.

That’s Wheeler’s stance, and he pounded the drum on behalf of fans in Green Bay, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, who nearly missed out on playoff games on TV when ticket sales lagged.

“The bottom line is the NFL no longer needs the government’s help to remain viable,” Wheeler wrote. “And we at the FCC shouldn’t be complicit in preventing sports fans from watching their favorite teams on TV. It’s time to sack the sports blackout rules for good.”

The league has fought to protect the rules, as it helps protect their investments. But a time when they’re working to convince fans to come to the stadium, the stick of a television blackout might be going away.

63 responses to “FCC chairman says they’ll vote Sept. 30 to kill blackout rule

  1. “…the NFL no longer needs the government’s help to remain viable…”

    Well, when you put it like that, how can you argue with that?

  2. Incoming NFL threats about PPV being the only option.

    Dont fall for the bluff. No way the NFL dumps billions in TV revenue they get from Network TV.

  3. Let them threaten ppv football. Isn’t going to effect me I have and will keep the Sunday ticket. Its the greatest invention known to man on Sundays in the fall.

  4. Hopefully the NFL will look to lower ticket prices to ensure sell outs .. wait.. this is the NFL .. no they wont.. they will instead come up with some kind of sideways logic to increase ticket prices.

  5. I am a capitalist kinda guy. However, when your business enjoys an antitrust exemption I say too bad you don’t get to complain when the government gets up in your business….You invited them in.

  6. if the NFL doesn’t like it, then don’t ask (demand) for public money to build your damn stadiums…

  7. Good. Forces teams to be competitive. If you put a crappy team together the fans deserve to be able to sit home and let you stew due to loss of beer and jersey sales, ticket sales etc.
    You want fans in the stands, stay competitive. Spend the money on top players and win baby win.

  8. The NFL can’t do anything to attract me to the game, stadiums are horrible places and I don’t get how they sell 10,000 tickets let alone 70,000.

    Every time I see a billionaire owner 1 mile away with binoculars watching the team he owns play, I am like LOL, if this guys seat blows how is mine ever going to be better.

  9. bert1913 says:Sep 9, 2014 12:31 PM

    As a seahawks fan, what is a black out?


    Name a player on the team 10 years ago WITHOUT searching online. . . . . .

  10. Great. It is about damned time. This was about as outdated as rules get. They have priced out the normal fan, and for a ticket to the Super Bowl forget it. Every day citizens can’t afford to plunk down $500 or more for halfway decent seats, parking, and food for a family of four for just 3.5 hours of entertainment. I am going to continue to watch the games on my 55″ SamsungWow. I’m surprised they got this one right.

  11. The point about the NFL making tens of billions from TV networks and sponsors is a good one. They can’t accept the billions and then ban the fans from watching on TV. Then they have the nerve to threaten/demand that the same fans pay for their lavish workplace palaces through corporate welfare taxes. The arrogance and greed of Goodell and the NFL knows no bounds.

  12. InB4 the “You’re taking money away from those abused and mistreated honest hard working billionaires!” conservaturd rants

    Why hasn’t this happened earlier? MONEY. OVER. EVERYTHING.

  13. Couldn’t agree more. Until the NFL makes the in-stadium experience more affordable, fans will continue to stay home. They can certainly afford it; they are raking in money hand over fist. End the blackout rule; it’s not 1975 anymore.

  14. Blackouts need to go, period. Team owners and the NFL steal from taxpayers to build their mega-stadiums then want to force those same taxpayers to pay ever-rising ticket prices is a sham.

    Blackouts are the exact opposite of free market and what the market decides is the cost to go to a game.

  15. This should hopefully combat the rising prices at the gate. There is no reason why a family of four should have to fork over upwards of $400-$600 to go to one ball game. By making it on TV, it will lower the fans ambition to pay anything to go to the game and cause the NFL to get more creative on how they get the butts in the seats, one way will be lowering gate prices.

  16. That’s a start. Now let’s talk about a cable-based Sunday Ticket option for those of us who live in areas where the weather isn’t dish-friendly. Thank heavens for Red Zone.

  17. ‘Bout time.

    Actually – I have no problems with the Blackout rule – if and only if – the owner entirely self funded the stadium. He paid for it – so he gets to pick if the Blackout rule is in effect.

    If you demanded public funding to buy your stadium? Then tough luck… If it’s televised anywhere- it’s televised for the taxpayers who funded your stadium.

  18. I said it before and I will say it again. Home markets are not just “The city where the stadium is”.

    I would have to travel 2 + hour to get to the game added on to the cost of parking, food and the tickets.

    I get my feed from that city so why the heck should I be blacked out? I can’t remember the last game that was blacked out but still.

    Get rid of the rule.

  19. bert1913…here is your answer:

    “None of the Seahawks’ 2001-02 home games, played in Husky Stadium, sold out. Only one of those games was televised, Sept. 23 vs. the Eagles, because the NFL waived the blackout rule for the week following the disruption of the schedule due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”

    How old are you? 11?

  20. When an NFL team accepts millions in public money to build their stadium, like in Cincinnati and other cities, they should have NO right to black out the broadcast. When this was pointed out they hid behind the FCC policy, claiming it was out of their hands. The FCC should have recognized that the policy was illegal at least in those markets and made the correction many years ago.

  21. This will make Green Bay happy. They won’t have to have a local bank and the local FOX affiliate buy up all their tickets to avoid a blackout in the playoffs, like last year.

  22. Will this also rescind the stupid “doubleheader” blackout rule?

    This is the rule that only allows one network (CBS or Fox) to have a double header each week.

  23. My question, is why did the FCC announce their intentions? This just gives the high-priced lobbyists paid for by the NFL to bribe, er give “campaign donations” to, Congressmen and Senators to try to kill off the FCC decision. Here’s hoping the FCC stays strong in the face of a massive lobbyist blast.

  24. Wait, could this also mean that Honolulu will no longer be part of the San Francisco local market as it is now according to the NFL’s illegal misapplication of the black out rules? They are only 2400 miles away and you can just get in your car and drive there, right?

    I also want to see if the NFL will still be able to black out the Sunday Ticket games on your computer online because the games are showing on your local TV. Another money grabbing misapplication of the black out rule.

  25. Psst NFL Owners: I have a secret as to how you can ensure that your games are sold out: price some of the tickets at reasonable levels!

    You see, there is this crazy thing called supply, demand, and the free market…

  26. If the teams have received any taxpayer money to fund their stadiums, they should not be allowed to have blackouts. This should be a no-brainer.

  27. Almost six years ago, the FCC allowed the cable companies to scramble the Expanded Basic channels. If you wanted to continue watching MNF in high-definition and 5.1 audio, you had to pay the cable company an additional $9 per month, per television, for the same level of service you had before the scramble.

    A little over a year ago, the FCC allowed the cable companies to scramble the Limited Basic channels (ABC, NBC, FOX, etc). If you wanted to continue watching ANYTHING in high-definition and 5.1 audio, you had to pay the cable company an additional $7 per month, per television, for the same level of service you had before the scramble.

    Previously, Tom Wheeler was a venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry. A few months ago, a document leaked detailing that the FCC would consider promulgating rules that would allow ISPs to violate net neutrality.

    You really think this man is looking out for YOU? You think that he’s on YOUR side?

    Personally, I do not trust the FCC one single bit. They’re up to something, and we will have to pay for it.

  28. It has always baffled me that the NFL strove to keep the blackout rule in effect and jack up ticket prices to the edge of the solar system at the same time.

    I have no kids, just me and the wife. Let’s do some math:

    Cost for game in person (2 tickets, $150, food, $20, 2 beers for me, $15) – $185.00, for 1 game

    Cost for 256 games on Sunday Ticket (Sunday Ticket costs, $350, six 6 packs of beer [2 beers per Sunday], $42) – $392, or $1.53 per game

    Jerry Richardson – you want to tip the math in your favor? Don’t threaten to move the Panthers to LA again the next time you want welfare to pay for another round of stadium upgrades. And lower the damn prices.

  29. The blackout rule for the NFL started in 1973.
    Before that NO home games, sold out or not, were on local TV. You had to buy a ticket.
    A little perspective.
    Empty seats won’t look good on TV. And there will be a lot more if the blackout rule is lifted.

  30. Seems fair. I’d note the Bengals opted out of the blackout rules and allow local fans to watch the games on TV. For those that think the stadium experience is not worth the ticket price, I have to say that Paul Brown Stadium is a great experience.

  31. This is lame, you take the blackout rule away, and people will stay at home.

    Why? Because its cheaper and easier to watch on the big screen.

    In order to end the blackout rule, they would have to lower the prices of games and food and parking.

    That’s not the goal of any great business, and the NFL is a huge business success.

    When it comes to losing money, the NFL is not interested.

    The blackout rule will continue. As it should.

  32. I don’t trust the FCC or the NFL. I predict if the Blackout Rule is eliminated, all NFL games will essentially be on Pay For View Television within 5 years. The NFL will not give up a penny of profit. It’s Professional Football, “It’s All About The Money”!

  33. I’m more concerned with the discretionary application of the blackout rule regarding satellite broadcasts. If a game is televised locally, it is not part of my expensive NFL Sunday Ticket, i.e., I can’t watch it on the 700 channels on Directv. However, if the game I want to watch at 4:00 p.m. is scheduled to be broadcast locally, and the 1:00 p.m. game runs late, I should be able to watch my 4:00 game on Directv until they get the early game off the air. I have missed up to a quarter of the late game due to the early broadcast running over (OT). Please address that one.

  34. Good put it on PPV and you will see how many real fans you have NFL and I will guarantee you its not as many as you think.

    It’s bad enough cable companies jack up our rates because of your crappy league.

    I sure hope you try to take your league to PPV like boxing. You can then Kiss your gravy train and franchise values plummet to normal values.

  35. This is lame, you take the blackout rule away, and people will stay at home.
    Tough. Maybe the owners should do what every other business owner has to do and improve their product so fans want to go over watching TV. Funny how people scream about free market rule right up until they’re reminded that that street goes both ways.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.