John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) did not tell Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn what they would like to see done vis-à-vis the sports blackout rule, but they want the FCC to do something, and soon.
The duo noted that it was certainly within the purview of Congress to take action on the matter, but also noted that the FCC has sufficient authority to act on its own without congressional intervention. Noting the existence of an FCC notice of inquiry already in progress for over a year, they said it was time to move on the a notice of proposed rulemaking.
They wrote, “The record includes thousands of comments from concerned sports fans around the nation; detailed legal arguments by non-profit public interest groups, professional sports leagues, and industry associations; and a white paper submitted by nine sports economists. Commenters have put forth a wide range of proposals, from maintaining the Sports Blackout Rule in its current form, to establishing a sunset and renewal process, to eliminating the rule altogether. With so much detailed information on the record from such a wide range of stakeholders, it is time for the Commission to take the next logical step and move to a NPRM.”
They requested that the FCC begin seeking comment under an NPRM with action designed to best serve the public interest in mind.
RBR-TVBR observation: It is our opinion that blackouts have outlived their usefulness. On a personal level, most people we know who are sports fans would prefer to go to a game in person rather than watch it on TV – and we think it is very rarely the case that a fan passes up a chance to go to the ballpark or arena precisely because the game is being televised.
We readily admit we do not have access to the kinds of records the teams have, but in our most humble opinion, all the blackout rule does is disrupt the program schedules and advertising sales of broadcaster. And what does the team get? The blackout shines a spotlight on its inability to fill its venue and puts in stark relief the team’s mean-spirited attitude towards its own fans.