Buffalo rep questions blackout rule


FCC BlackoutBrian Higgins (D-NY) believes the rule allowing NFL teams to keep home games off local television when a certain number of tickets are unsold is outdated, and has asked when the FCC will complete a review of the topic. His own hometown Buffalo Bills have been one of the NFL teams frequently on the bubble for a blackout.

Higgins said he submitted comments to the FCC long ago, as did fans organizations, economists, public officials and the fans themselves. But after year and a half, nothing has happened.

His own view is that the rule is outdated. “The value of the National Football League was significantly enhanced by televising games and decades old blackout rules created before the League achieved its current popularity and financial stability do not increase game attendance. Most importantly, the Sports Blackout Rule is not fair to my constituents and a public that commits substantial tax dollars subsidizing the construction and maintenance of 30 of the NFL’s 31 stadia.”

Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn referred Higgins’ correspondence to the Media Bureau, which pointed out that the 85% rule is a relatively new update from the NFL, and may well reduce the number of blackouts without any FCC intervention.

Beyond that, MB’s Michael S. Perko said a review of the matter has been completed and recommendations about what the FCC should do, if anything, are forthcoming.