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Keiichi Morisato

FCC Eliminates NFL Blackout Rules, May Lost Antitrust Protections

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Keiichi Morisato    418
Keiichi Morisato

There has been a lot developing over this story. Over the past several days, word has came out that the FCC ruled to end its "Sports Blackout Rules" that gave government protection for allowing the NFL to impose blackout rules that prevented the broadcast of NFL games whenever a game was not sold out, or didn't meet a threshold of ticket sales. The unaniminous vote ended FCC protection for the NFL. The FCC admitted that the NFL could still impose the blackouts, even though it no longer had the protections of the FCC policy.

After the FCC decision, the NFL responded to the decision by saying it would make no change to its policies. The NFL praised itself for being "the only sports league that televises every one of its games on free, over-the-air television." However, the NFL prevents games from being shown on local TV when tickets don't sell out. Teams are allowed to reduce the likelihood of a blackout by only requiring that 85 percent of tickets be sold, but the NFL has refused to end the blackouts entirely.

It gets worse. Without getting too far into this for obvious reasons, two senators wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, informing him that if the NFL didn't end the "blackouts once and for all", that congress might be forced to act. In the letter, the senators wrote, "We ask that you capitalize on the FCC’s vote this week and voluntarily rescind your requirement that local television stations black out games that fail to sell out. The NFL has received substantial benefits from the public in the form of antitrust exemptions, a specialized tax status, and direct taxpayer dollars that subsidize football arenas and stadiums. These generous benefits were extended to leagues like the NFL in part based on recognition that sports leagues play a central role in our national culture, promote teamwork, and generate jobs and economic activity across the country. But, the provision of these substantial public benefits requires that the NFL meet basic obligations to the American public and loyal fans, and this includes abandoning rules that punish those same fans."

Apparently, congress is ready to press forward to end this so-called process of broadcast blackouts if the NFL doesn;t do the right thing, step forward, and lead the charge by actively eliminating its rules regarding these "blackouts". In any event, this is defintiely a major win for sports fans, knowing that the practice of 'blackouts' for NFL games might be coming to an end very soon.

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gdata1954    14

that is good news in deed for the sports fans

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Board startup date: December 12, 2004 13:15:32