FCC erases sports blackout rule


NFL / National Football LeagueThe NFL will still have the ability to black out television carriage of its games when it sees fit, but it will no longer say it is doing so via FCC rules and regulations – they no longer exist by unanimous vote.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that government should not help the NFL blackout games. They will no longer be able to hide behind the FCC when they pull this maneuver.

Jessica Rosenworcel made the point that the rules applied to a different era, nothing that when they came into existence, playoff teams included the St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams, teams that at this point have not existed for years.

Mignon Clyburn pointed out that fans would love to attend the games in person, but for many they can’t afford to park at the stadium much less pay for tickets. She noted that the rules were largely irrelevant to other sports, and said they should no longer apply to the NFL either.

Michael O’Rielly said that if the NFL was serious about attracting the highest viewership possible for its games, it would cease moving them from universally-accessible broadcast platforms to subscription-based cable platforms, noting in particular games carries on Monday and Thursday nights. He also noted the frustration fans experience in his home football market of Buffalo NY, where the threat of blackouts is very real.

Ajit Pai also supported the measure, mentioning his pleasure watching his own favorite team, the Kansas City Chiefs.