FCC Reviewing Sports Blackout Rules
The Federal Communications Commission said Thursday it will review whether to get rid of decades-old TV rules rules stopping cable and satellite companies from airing NFL games and other sporting events that are blacked out on local broadcast TV.
The inability to watch games because their local team hasn’t sold out their stadium ranks up there with personal seat licenses (PSL’s) as two of the biggest complaints of sports fans.
The FCC said it’s considering whether it should jettison the rules because they “prevent consumers’ access to local sports events, particularly with ticket prices and unemployment at their current high levels.”
A coalition of consumer groups and cable-funded advocacy groups petitioned the FCC to dump blackout rules in in November calling them anti-fan.
But NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy countered current blackout rules are vital to keeping games available for on free broadcast TV for millions of viewers. Besides, the number of TV blackouts is falling, according to the NFL.
Only 6.3% of games were blacked out this season (or 16 out of 256 games) compared to 31% of games in the 199o’s, 40% in the 1980′s and 50% in the 1970′s. Every NFL game was blacked out prior to 1973.