FCC to vote on proposal to remove NFL blackout rule Sept. 30

Tuesday September 9th, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission will vote Sept. 30 on whether to end the NFL’s four decade-long television blackout rule, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said Tuesday.

Wheeler wrote an editorial in USA Today saying that the blackout rules are obsolete and unfair to fans.

The rule requires NFL home teams to black out a game in the local market if the team doesn’t sell out the home game. Just two teams, the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills, had home games blacked out last season, but several others came close. 

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“The sports blackout rules are a bad hangover from the days when barely 40 percent of games sold out and gate receipts were the league's principal source of revenue. Last weekend, every single game was sold out,” Wheeler wrote.

Wheeler cited last season’s home playoff games involving the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals, both of which struggled to sell out. He called Green Bay’s case “egregious” because of the weather factors — the temperature at kickoff for the Packers' NFC wild-card game against the San Francisco 49ers was five degrees.

The NFL and NFL Players Association have said they support keeping the rule in place. 

- Scooby Axson  

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