FCC almost ready to consider TV sports blackouts


MIB Reports SportsSenators John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) wrote a letter to Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn questioning the Sports Blackout Rule. Noting the options — keep it, put it under sunset/renewal or eliminate it – they asked for and received a status report from Clyburn.

The Senators did not suggest which of the three results they favor, noting only that there were thousands of comments made on the topic by the public and that all three received support.

They also noted the possibility of congressional intervention, but said that since Congress never ordered to FCC to craft a sports blackout rule, the FCC had perfect authority to modify or eliminate it on its own.

They concluded, “In light of this we not only urge you to move this proceeding to the NPRM phase but request that such PRM seek comment on what would serve the public interest, convenience and necessity. As such we respectfully ask that you move to a NPRM regarding the so-called Sports Blackout Rule and utilize your existing authorities.”

Clyburn informed the Senators that their letter was being added to the record on the proceeding.

More to the point, she said the review of the record was complete and that the Media Bureau was preparing its recommendation. She said she was looking forward to reviewing it when completed and considering what the next step should be.

Clyburn added a note about real world developments that have taken place since the proceeding was initiated. She said, “You might be aware that the NFL revised its blackout policy shortly after the period for submission of public comments in this proceeding closed. Under the new policy, NFL teams have the option of lifting blackouts in their local markets if 85 percent of game tickets have been sold. The NFL’s new policy may result in fewer blackouts of sports programming.”


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