FCC proposes elimination of sports blackout rule

Sports blackouts could be eliminated next year if the FCC succeeds with a rulemaking procedure it has initiated.

"We propose to eliminate the sports blackout rules," the FCC said Wednesday in its notice of proposed rulemaking, which had been expected. The blackout rules required broadcasters to black out the feeds of NFL games that aren't sold out, and they have blocked pay providers from importing games from other markets as replacements for games that are blacked out.

The National Association of Broadcasters said in a prepared statement that it opposes eliminating the rules.

"Sports blackouts are exceedingly rare, and NAB dislikes these disruptions as much as our viewers. We're concerned that the FCC proposal may hasten the migration of sports to pay-TV platforms, and will disadvantage the growing number of people who rely on free, over-the-air television as their primary source for sports. Allowing importation of sports programming on pay-TV platforms while denying that same programming to free broadcast-only homes would erode the economic base of local television and hinder broadcasting as an engine for economic growth in local communities," NAB said in its statement.

For more:
- see FCC notice

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