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Old 01-13-2012   #1
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Default FCC considers ending the blackout rule

Finally, the voice of reason may become fan friendly.

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Posted by Mike Florio on January 13, 2012, 10:05 PM EST

Last month, Senator Sherrod Brown (D.-Ohio) called for the NFL to end its “failed” blackout policy, after said policy successfully had prevented six of seven Bengals home games from being televised in the Cincinnati area.

On Thursday, the FCC decided to seek public comment on the elimination of rules that prevent blacked out games from being televised via cable and satellite operators. If those rules are eliminated by the FCC, blackouts essentially would end.

Per Richard Sandomir of the New York Times, the NFL’s position is that the blackout policy helps keep all games on free television. Opponents contend that the league now makes the bulk of its money from the sale of TV rights, and that blacking out games due to the presence of unsold non-premium tickets unfairly prevents consumers from watching the games on television.

The move comes at a time when the NFL is struggling in multiple markets with a chronic inability to sell out stadiums. In places like Jacksonville, St. Louis, Miami, and San Diego, teams at times are buying, either directly or through sponsors, the unsold tickets at 34 cents on the dollar, which is permitted by league rule.

Ultimately, the issue becomes whether the teams are setting prices accurately. Every team wants its home games to be televised locally, since the broadcast of a game represents a three-hour infomercial in support of the franchise. But if teams simply can’t sell out on a consistent basis, the teams need to reduce the prices of the tickets until demand and supply properly intersect, or the teams need to win more games and hope nature will take its course.

Regardless, with each passing cycle of multi-billion-dollar TV contracts, it’s hard not to think that the box office receipts have gone from being the primary source of revenue to a secondary stream of cash, at best. Games played in stadiums that, for most teams, received direct or indirect public funding should be available for the public to enjoy, regardless of whether the team that plays in the stadium knows how to properly ensure that all tickets to the game have been sold.

Since the NFL supports its desire to expand the regular season to 18 games by saying the fans want it, here’s a chance for the fans to make their wishes known on the blackout rule.
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Old 01-13-2012   #2
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Default Re: FCC considers ending the blackout rule

I wonder how many Oiler home games we missed because of that stupid rule?
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Old 01-14-2012   #3
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Default Re: FCC considers ending the blackout rule

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Originally Posted by gwallaia View Post
I wonder how many Oiler home games we missed because of that stupid rule?
A pile of 'em. That's why the Cowboy games are what we were watching then!
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Old 01-14-2012   #4
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Default Re: FCC considers ending the blackout rule

I had no idea that was an FCC rule, I figured it was just an NFL rule. Why couldn't the NFL just make it a league rule if this one is removed from FCC regulations? (assuming they want to keep it)
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Old 01-14-2012   #5
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Default Re: FCC considers ending the blackout rule

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Originally Posted by Dutchrudder View Post
I had no idea that was an FCC rule, I figured it was just an NFL rule. Why couldn't the NFL just make it a league rule if this one is removed from FCC regulations? (assuming they want to keep it)
This is a common misconception.

The black out rules were established by the NFL.......NOT through governmental regulation. The Congress stepped in at one point just to try to make the original rules half-way palatable.

Quote:
Since 1973, the NFL has maintained a blackout policy that states that a home game cannot be televised locally if it is not sold out 72 hours prior to its start time. Prior to 1973, all games were blacked out in the home city of origin regardless of whether they were sold out. This policy, dating back to the NFL's emerging television years, resulted in home-city blackouts even during championship games. For instance, the 1958 "Greatest Game Ever Played" between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants was unavailable to New York fans despite the sellout. (Many fans rented hotel rooms in Connecticut to watch the game on Hartford TV, a practice that continued for Giants games through 1972.) Similarly, all Super Bowl games prior to 1973 were unavailable in the host city's market.

Although that policy was successfully defended in court numerous times, Congress passed legislation requiring the NFL to impose the 72-hour deadline (see above). The league will sometimes change this deadline to 48 hours if there are only a few thousand tickets left unsold; much more rarely, they will occasionally extend this to 24 hours in special cases.
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Old 01-14-2012   #6
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Default Re: FCC considers ending the blackout rule

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Originally Posted by CloakNNNdagger View Post
This is a common misconception.

The black out rules were established by the NFL.......NOT through governmental regulation. The Congress stepped in at one point just to try to make the original rules half-way palatable.

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Ah, OK thanks. Still seems very convoluted to me. I don't understand how it helps any of the teams anyways.
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