Feds Moving On Possible Blackout-Busting Change

January 12th, 2012

Joe’s not big on government poking its nose into football business, but if it’s good for fans and it involves the public airwaves, who is Joe to play politics.

Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) spit out a press release touting that his office has moved the chains in the fight against the FCC and the NFL’s blackout policy.

Brown’s office announced today that the FCC is planning to reconsider the Sports Blackout Rule, a 1970s-era regulation that allows sports leagues, like the NFL, to black out broadcasts of a local sports game when the game does not sell out. At the urging of Sen. Brown, the FCC will release a petition urging the agency to open the Sports Blackout Rule for public feedback, the first step in repealing the regulation.

Per Bloomberg news, the FCC apparently has caved to pressure.

The Federal Communications Commission in an e-mailed notice today called for comments on a petition filed by five groups that said the rule dating to 1975 “supports blatantly anti-fan, anti-consumer behavior.”

Joe wonders how/if a repeal of blackouts would affect the Bucs, or any NFL team for that matter.

Joe’s met his share of Bucs fans that attended more Bucs games than ever the past two seasons because they couldn’t deal with not watching games live and shunned unlawful Internet broadcats. Surely, the blackout rule keeps some fans in the seats, but it limits longterm growth of the fan base because hundreds of thousands of “casual” local fans won’t be exposed to Bucs home games.

Joe suspects the mess of government and the legal power of the mighty NFL will tie up any real change in the blackout policy for years to come. If the NFL owners didn’t want the policy in place, it would have been gone years ago, and they’re surely likely to fight for its life.

11 Responses to “Feds Moving On Possible Blackout-Busting Change”

  1. TheProsUseAdvoCare Says:

    I don’t understand why the FCC has their hands in it anyways. If the NFL doesn’t want to broadcast the NFL, GREAT!!! Say hello to competition! Enter the new USFL.

  2. Bobby Says:

    There is a legal technicality involved with teams who use taxpayer money to build stadiums and then punish said taxpayers by blacking out games. Not sure how it works but from what I hear this is one of the reasons they are using to apply pressure to the FCC. I guess the train of though is that if the cameras are allowed to broadcast from a stadium built with taxpayer dollars then the taxpayers should have a right to the broadcast. Hey, sounds good to me!

  3. Teacherman777 Says:

    More advertising money. More fans. Cheaper tickets. Bigger crowds IF the Bucs start to perform again.

    This blackout rule is stupid. Get rid of it!!

  4. Nick Says:

    Oh man, if this happens the Bucs will get Rays numbers for attendance. Fans already make enough excuses to not go. Now you add “its always on TV”…

  5. Gt40bear Says:

    While I do believe the blackout rule needs to be changed, government should stay out of this issue. If taxpayers don’t like how it’s being handled, then taxpayers shouldn’t have voted for the funding. Fans should band together and force a change. Maybe boycotting NFL products perhaps?

  6. ZanyZack Says:

    @Bobby “PUnish is a subjective term and not part of this at all. Who’s to say that local fans wouldn’t rather watch, for example, a Giants-Eagles game versus being forced to watch Rams-Bucs. … If they want fairness, use technology to let fans pick the game they want to watch.

    Second, in most cases, like in Tampa. The Bucs didn’t use taxpayer money to build a stadium, the taxpayers built it themselves and rent it to the Bucs. Two totally different animals.

    Government only has a place in this because the FCC owns the broadcast airwaves.

  7. BucFan813 Says:

    i get movies and music for free…lol..and football games..

  8. TheProsUseAdvoCare Says:

    @Gt40bear Great words, sir.

  9. BucFan South Tampa Says:

    NFL Teaams should have the right to blackout games, UNLESS the team is playing in a government (public) built stadium, then it forfeits the right to blackout games. We in Tampa paid for Raymond James Stadium, the broadcasts should go out on the public airwaves.

  10. A REAL Bucs Fan Says:

    Joe wonders how/if a repeal of blackouts would affect the Bucs, or any NFL team for that matter.

    I think what would happen is football teams would be forced to lower ticket prices dramatically to fill the stadiums. THIS would be a good thing.

    After all…we all know the ticket sales are barely a fraction of the profits for teams thanks to the TV deals.

    Another aspect is this: Advertisers would get more bang for their buck. With games not being blacked out, the commercials would be viewed by more people…sometimes Millions more.

    If ticket and concession prices were dramatically dropped, people would go to the games.

    Would television viewing cause the games to not sell out?


    Because when there was a waiting list, games were on television and yet…there was STILL a demand for tickets.

  11. A REAL Bucs Fan Says:

    Gt40bear Says:
    January 12th, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    While I do believe the blackout rule needs to be changed, government should stay out of this issue. If taxpayers don’t like how it’s being handled, then taxpayers shouldn’t have voted for the funding. Fans should band together and force a change. Maybe boycotting NFL products perhaps?

    That would be the case if tax dollars weren’t being used to support the teams in some way. Because they are, the government has every right to get involved.

    Do baseball games get blacked out? Basketball? I would thing the NFL would want to lift the rule. It would increase the popularity of their product.

    But the plain and simple fact is corporations do not change their ways unless forced in situations like this…even if some members of the corporations want the change.

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