NFL sides with broadcasters in blackout filing


The National Football League wishes to retain its right to black out broadcast of a game from local broadcast television when the game has failed to generate a live-attendance sellout. That means local MVPD services may not carry a game that broadcasters may not carry. Likewise, it has told the FCC that MVPDs should not be allowed to import a game that is lost due to a disruption of broadcast service on their system due to a stalled retransmission negotiation.

The filing came in response to the FCC’s proceeding on retransmission negotiations and a possible role in them for the FCC.

The NFL said that Congress has repeatedly affirmed that the contract for carriage of a broadcast signal should be a product of a free market negotiation. NFL agrees that it is in the public interest for the negotiations to proceed without undue government intervention.

The league said allowing MVPDs to go around broadcasters and carry games during a dispute ultimately it would work against fans of the NFL, since it would disadvantage broadcasters and heavily advantage pay-TV providers.
NFL noted what many broadcasters have also noted: That having the rules tilted in their favor by the government would give MVPDs every reason to allow negotiations to disintegrate to the point of service loss.