Advocates want an end to NFL TV blackouts


The Sports Fan Coalition and four other watchdog groups are asking the FCC to put an end to the rule that allows sports team to nix television broadcast of a game that does not enjoy a sellout at the ticket box. The rule was called outdated and absurd.

SFC enlisted the support of National Consumer League, Public Knowledge, Media Access Project, and the League of Fans in what it calls the “best organized” attempt to bring the blackout rule to an end.

Sports Fans Coalition Executive Director Brian Frederick said, “It is ridiculous that the leagues continue to black out games from their own fans after taking in massive public subsidies, during such difficult economic times, and even more ridiculous that the federal government props up this practice through the Sports Blackout Rule.”

Frederick added, “It is absurd that the government still props up the sports leagues with an outdated and unnecessary rule written four decades ago. The FCC’s blackout rule simply helps to perpetuate the anti-consumer practice of withholding sporting events from fans who cannot afford tickets to games, even when those fans helped to subsidize sports through public funding, laws, and regulations.”

SFC provided a passage from its petition, which states, “At a time of persistently high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and consumer uncertainty, the Sports Blackout Rule supports blatantly anti-fan, anti-consumer behavior by professional sports leagues who charge exorbitant prices for tickets, then punish fans by blacking out games from television because a few seats remain unsold.  Moreover, when professional and collegiate sports enjoy vast public subsidies in the form of taxpayer-funded stadiums; federal anti-trust exemptions; roads, highways, and public transit serving sports arenas; tax-exempt status for professional sports leagues; state and federal grants to public universities; and other support, the public –sports fans—should be able to watch the games that they helped to finance.”