By Ken Reed

Earlier this week, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler wrote in a USA Today editorial, “The FCC shouldn’t be complicit in preventing sports fans from watching their favorite teams on TV. It’s time to sack the sports blackout rule for good.”

We at League of Fans couldn’t agree more. As original petitioners three years ago to end the TV sports blackout rule, League of Fans applauds the stance Wheeler took this week.

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.
Wheeler said the full commission will vote on the matter at the end of the month.

“The NFL should no longer be able to hide behind government rules that punish loyal fans, which is why I am sending to my fellow commissioners a proposal to get rid of the FCC’s blackout rules once and for all,” wrote Wheeler. “It fulfills a commitment I made in June. We will vote on the proposal on September 30.”

Regarding the TV sports blackout rule, nine nationally-ranked sports economists, multiple U.S. Senators and House Members, a half dozen public interest advocates, academics, business associations, and other industry stakeholders have told the Commission: blackouts hurt fans, don’t spur attendance, and shouldn’t be supported by the federal government.

Here’s hoping the FCC commissioners don’t succumb to ongoing pressures from the NFL and vote to formally end this anti-consumer rule at their public meeting on Sept. 30th.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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