NFL lawyer: League studying blackout rule

Friday December 5th, 2014

An NFL lawyer told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the NFL is looking into the issue of the league’s blackout rule which has been in place for almost four decades, reports the New York Post.

The Federal Communications Commission voted on Sept. 30 to repeal the rule, which requires NFL home teams to blackout a game in the local market if the team doesn’t sell out the home game.

“The owners committee is studying this issue,” Gerard Waldron, an NFL lawyer said, according to the New York Post.

Waldron claimed a bill that would end the rule would harm the fans, according to the Associated Press, and the "business and legal structure that allows the NFL to be the only professional sports league that offers all of its regular-season game to viewers at no charge."

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If the NFL doesn’t do something about the blackout rule, then Congress will, according to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn). Blumenthal and other Congress members warned the NFL to get rid of the rule or they could take away the league’s antitrust exemption. That exemption allowing teams to negotiate various radio and TV rights deal.

Last year, home playoff games of the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers were close to being blacked out, but those teams sold enough tickets just days before the game to avoid the blackout.

No games have been blacked out this season and only two games met such a fate in 2013.

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

- Scooby Axson

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