FCC Unanimously Moves to Consider Ending Sports Blackout Rules

The Federal Communications Commission decided by unanimous vote to consider a proposal to eliminate 40-year-old sports blackout rules that prohibit cable and satellite providers from carrying a game if it is blacked out on television due to insufficient ticket sales.

No one was happier than Senate sports fans, who took did an end zone dance and took credit for nudging the FCC in this direction.

“The FCC’s unanimous vote today is a big victory for sports fans,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “This June, Senator Blumenthal and I sent a letter to FCC Acting Chair Clyburn, urging the Commission to move to eliminate the Sports Blackout Rule, which is no longer supported by facts or logic."

"For years I have worked to reform the regulatory framework that favors the interests of cable and television programming companies and the leagues over those of sports fans and cable consumers," McCain added. "There is much more work to be done, but the FCC’s vote today moves us one step closer to the finish line.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called the vote a "tremendously positive step forward for consumers and sports fans."

"Existing blackout policies quite literally leave fans in the dark, and leagues or programmers that enforce them should not be rewarded with special regulatory status, antitrust exemptions, or taxpayer subsidies," he said.

"To combat this abuse, Senator McCain and I introduced the FANS Act and the Television Consumer Freedom Act. Fans deserve a level playing field that gives them fair access to their favorite teams.”

Their bill aimed to decrease the frequency of sports blackouts by requiring leagues to meet basic obligations to fans if they wish to continue receiving substantial benefits from the public.