By Ken Reed
I think a lot of reporters and consumer advocates are jumping the gun on this week’s FCC proposal to end blackout restrictions on pro sporting events. I don’t think the FCC action does anything for the fans yet — and it may never do anything for them. The reality is that even if this week’s FCC proposal becomes a final decision, the NFL and their network partners can still put blackout clauses in their TV deals.
Basically, my feeling on the sports blackout issue is that given all the tax advantages the NFL gets as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, along with all the taxpayer-funding NFL owners receive to build their sports palaces, and the NFL’s government-sanctioned monopoly status, fans need to be treated more justly in a lot of ways, but particularly when it comes to television blackouts. NFL games should not be blacked out. Period.
However, this week’s FCC proposal specifically states that networks and sports leagues would retain the right to privately negotiate blackout restrictions. This is likely what the NFL and its partner networks will do. In effect, for sports fans, nothing would change.
This needs to be cleaned up. All loopholes allowing leagues, networks and league franchises to continue a blackout policy of any type should be removed in any new FCC rule. If not, the favorable treatment the government gives the NFL should end.
The only possible light at the end of the tunnel here is that instead of fans blaming some FCC rule for sports blackouts, they could blame the local NFL franchise, the league, and the networks for conspiring to put a blackout clause in their television contracts. By shaming the NFL and its franchises, the league could take a pretty big PR hit. Whether that hit is big enough to stop them from negotiating their own blackout rules in television contracts I don’t know.
But I doubt it.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – The guest is Gary McCoy, a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations. Our focus is the injury pandemic in baseball, what’s causing it and how it can be fixed.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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