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FCC May Put An End To The Sports Blackout Rule

FCC Looks at blackout ruleIt’s happened to all of us.

You turn the TV on expecting to get comfortable on the couch and watch your local professional sports team play.  Everything is prepped and ready to go. Only then do you find out that the game has been blacked out.  Your only option now is to run to the local sports bar or beg a friend to let you join their party.

The FCC may soon come to the rescue.

The days of the “blackout rule” may be coming to an end.  In an age where ticket prices are on the rise and the economy isn’t quite what it used to be, the FCC is looking at the blackout rule in the eye of public interest.

FCC:  Is the blackout rule in the best interest of the public?

For nearly 40 years, the blackout rule has plagued home-viewing sports fans.  The rule was originally intended to ensure broadcasts of sports games did not hurt local ticket sales.

But the FCC is now trying to decide if the rule has become outdated.  FCC acting Chairwoman, Mignon Clyburn, said in a statement:

“Changes in the marketplace have raised questions about whether these rules are still in the public interest, particularly at a time when high ticket prices and the economy make it difficult for many sports fans to attend games.”

While removing the blackout rule would lessen the chances of a blackout, sports leagues, broadcasters and cable and satellite service providers could still privately negotiate blackout agreements.  Even so, the FCC will look to study whether or not the rule has become outdated.

Groups, such as the Sports Fans Coalition, actually petitioned the FCC in 2011 to removed the rule.  The group mentioned even had backing from Verizon and Time Warner Cable, as well as support from consumer interest groups.

However, removing such a rule would not come without its concerns.

The National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton said in a statement on Friday:

“Sports blackouts are exceedingly rare, and NAB dislikes these disruptions as much as our viewers.  However, we’re concerned that today’s proposal may hasten the migration of sports to pay-TV platforms, and will disadvantage the growing number of people who rely on free, over-the-air television.”

Sports fans can stand up and rejoice as the blackout rule may fall.  Or can they?  Do you think this will cause more problems?  Do you watch games on free TV or pay TV?

Photo credit – utsandiego.com

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