The sports blackout rules that have kept National Football League games off TV “have to go,” and the Federal Communications Commission will vote Sept. 30 on ending them, the agency’s chief said today.
“We are blowing the whistle on this anti-fan practice,” Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, said in an article in today’s USA Today newspaper.
The NFL has opposed ending the rules, saying they’re needed to encourage sellouts at stadiums. The rules keep cable providers and satellite broadcasters from showing sports events lacking sellout crowds.
Wheeler said the rule “remains a real concern for fans.” Three playoff games last year didn’t have sellout crowds 72 hours before kickoff, and fans could view games only because local businesses bought tickets, he said.
Ending the rules, crafted almost 40 years ago to promote live attendance when ticket sales were the main source of revenue, needs support from a majority of the FCC’s five commissioners.