Television

FCC votes to end NFL Blackout rules

A landmark decision was made today by the FCC ending a 40-year-old regulation that allowed local NFL games and other sports-clubs to ‘blackout’ the broadcast if the local stadium failed to sell-out.

This ruling has been protested for years by fans who rely on cable and satellite systems to watch their favorite local teams. It should be noted that this ruling still allows the NFL or other professional sports-clubs to create private deals with broadcasters to not air the games if they wish.

Fighting against the ruling change was the NFL and the National Assn. of Broadcasters, who argued that only two football games were blacked out last season yet still demanded to have the rule to fall back on.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stated at the meeting today that “if there are blackouts next weekend or Monday night or Thursday night or Sunday, it will be the decision of the league owners without the participation of the federal government….Everyone needs to be aware who allows blackouts to exist, and it is not the Federal Communications Commission.”

The rule was created in 1975, but the NFL now makes more with commercials and broadcasting rights than it did at that time, filling the stadium has become less of a ‘money-maker’ than traditional ticket sales and snack-selling, and the FCC has decided that the time has come to match the change.

Members of the FCC argued that the reason for the tickets not selling out isn’t because of TV networks broadcasting the game, it’s ticket-price, something that almost all fans can agree with. FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn stated, “Let’s be clear here this morning, the vast majority of fans cannot afford to attend, let alone park.”

“The FCC shouldn’t be involved in the sports blackout business,” said Commissioner Ajit Pai. “It is the commission’s job to support the public interest, not the private interest of team owners.”

All of the commissioners voted to eliminate the rule.

“The FCC shouldn’t be involved in the sports blackout business,” said Commissioner Ajit Pai. “It is the commission’s job to support the public interest, not the private interest of team owners.”

“The NFL does not need FCC rules to do what it could do for itself,” said Commissioner Michael O’Rielly.

Tags : NFL