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NFL will 'strongly oppose' change to TV blackout rule

The NFL and FCC are at odds over a four-decade sports blackout rule. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) The NFL and FCC are at odds over a four-decade sports blackout rule. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

The National Football League said Thursday it opposes the Federal Communications Commission trying to end a 40-year sports blackout rule.

A blackout occurs when an NFL team doesn't sell out its stadium, and the league's blackout rule requires a team to sell out a game within 72 hours of kickoff in order to be shown on local television stations.

There have been only two blackouts because of attendance this year. The first one happened on Dec. 1 when the San Diego Chargers failed to sell out their home game against the Cincinnati Bengals.  The Buffalo Bills' home game against the Miami Dolphins this Sunday will also be blacked out.

The FCC said that the rule has "become outdated due to marketplace changes since their adoption, and whether modification or elimination of those rules is appropriate.”

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But the NFL says the blackout rules needs to continue to be in place because it helps fill stadiums and enhances the game for both the television viewer and fans that attends games.

“We will strongly oppose any change in the rule,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Politico.com.  “We are on pace for a historic low number of blackouts since the policy was implemented 40 years ago.  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.”

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