Congressional panel to address blackouts


FCC BlackoutThe Senate Judiciary Committee has rescheduled a hearing that will look into sports blackouts and other professional sports issues. It will convene at 10:15 eastern time, 12/4/14.

The session will be under the gavel of Sen. Richard Blumethal (D-CT). This is despite the fact that the chair of the Committee is Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

The full title of the session indicates the topics: Are Sports Blackouts and Antitrust Exemptions Harming Fans, Consumers, and the Games Themselves?

And it’s all attached to a bill: The FANS Act.

John McCain (R-AZ) will lead off as a panel of one.

Witnesses on the second panel include:

* William Lake, Chief, Media Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, Washington DC
* David Goodfriend, Chairman, Sports Fan Coalition, Washington DC
* Sally Greenberg, Executive Director, National Consumers League, Washington DC
* Gerard Waldron, Partner, Covington & Burling, Washington DC

RBR-TVBR observation: We suspect we know what the FCC’s Lake will tell the Committee. The FCC has already erased its own blackout rule. However, sports teams still have the power to black out games – the policy is just no longer sanctioned by the FCC. So it is still an issue.

And of course, the anti-trust exemptions are another matter entirely, but for our purposes, not of particular interest to broadcasters.