The NFL says it will “strongly” oppose the FCC’s effort to eliminate the sports blackout rules, pointing out that through week 15 of the current season, there has so far been only one such blackout out of 224 games.
The commissioners voted unanimously this week to consider eliminating the rule, but it must vote a final order to make it official.
The rule prevents cable and satellite operators from airing a game that has been blacked out on broadcast TV due to insufficient ticket sales. Removing it would not necessarily end blackouts because the NFL could still include them in their contracts with broadcasters and MVPDs.
While it is simply a proposed rulemaking, the FCC signaled the likelihood the rule would be ongoing.
“We recognize that elimination of our sports blackout rules alone might not end sports blackouts, but it would leave sports carriage issues to private solutions negotiated by the interested parties in light of current market conditions and eliminate unnecessary regulation.”
The NFL signaled it is not looking to change its policy, suggesting it is pretty much a case of no harm, no foul to viewers, while preserving the ability to gets fans in the seats.
“We are on pace for a historic low number of blackouts since the policy was implemented 40 years ago,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. “While affecting very few games the past decade, the blackout rule is very important in supporting NFL stadiums and the ability of NFL clubs to sell tickets and keeping our games attractive as television programming with large crowds.”
Source: Multichannel News, 12/20/13