Jeff Smith noon, March 8
FCC to Accept Comments on Ending Sports Blackouts on TV
The Federal Communications Commission is considering revising its sports “blackout” rules that cause fans of some local teams to be unable to watch home games on television.
The FCC announced it would accept public comment on a petition backed by sports fans seeking to lift the blackouts after receiving a request from Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. The Cincinnati Bengals, playing in Brown’s home state, had five of their eight regular-season home games blacked out in any television market with a portion of its boundaries within 75 miles of the game.
Locally, 2 of the Chargers’ regular season games were blacked out last year, part of a nationwide total of 16. The number is down from 26 total blackouts in 2010, but many fans decry the policy’s existence at all, saying it’s ineffective for its stated purpose of forcing sellout-capacity crowds to ante up $60 or more per seat to attend the games of subpar teams.
The broadcast blackouts affect other sports besides football, though to a lesser degree, usually involving blackouts in subscription packages when a game is televised locally or nationally.
Brown says he will continue his fight against what he calls “an outdated rule which is unfair to the teams, the fans, and especially the taxpayers.”
The FCC is taking public comments on the matter through February 13, and responses to comments through February 28.
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