It’s been going on for decades and started before many readers were even born, the blackout restrictions on sports broadcasts. Although it had its place at one time, many people think that the time has come to end the ‘Blackout Rule’ on professional sports. The FCC has now weighed in on the topic, following up on a proposal the comity released last month, the new statement confirms that the FCC wishes to now officially eliminate the restrictions placed on broadcasters.
The FCC has been investigating the topic for the last several months, and it has found significant data that proves television is more lucrative to sports-clubs, then tickets. That being the case there is no longer any need for broadcasters to blackout a game, in order to promote ticket-sales (which was the entire point of the rule when it was established). In the report the FCC concludes, “television revenues have replaced gate receipts as the most significant source of revenue for NFL clubs,” proving that, at least for football, blackouts only hurt revenues and doesn’t increase them.
The blackouts prevent both national-cable and satellite networks from airing any game that was blacked out by the local broadcast stations (those games were preventing from being broadcasted locally to try and push fans to go to the stadium instead of watching it at home).
The NFL already has a rule in place, if a game isn’t sold out 72 hours prior to kickoff it wouldn’t be allowed to be broadcasted locally. That may make sense, but the FCC rule prevented national networks from broadcasting the game, because of the local restrictions.
Since television brings in more money than ticket sales, there no longer seems to be a point in restricting the broadcast; at least that is the point the FCC is trying to make.
Mignon L. Clyburn, the former FCC Chairman warned that ending the rule won’t stop the blackouts, “elimination of our sports blackout rules will not prevent the sports leagues, broadcasters, and cable and satellite providers from privately negotiating agreements to black out certain sports events.” That’s a valid point, but ending the official rules from the FCC standpoint would remove the Government’s involvement in the broadcast, which is something that a lot of people are hoping for. Also, if television is the primary income from these events, self-imposed blackouts wouldn’t be that common… In theory.
As of right now no changes are planned, and this is only for the NFL at the moment, as MLB and other sports have different rules that they bestow on their own to local and national broadcasters. It’s a first step though, and that is something that most people can get behind.
more info: fcc