James Careless /
11.05.2013 10:14 AM
NAB: Sports Blackout Rule Changes Will Drive Sports to Pay-TV
FCC thinks rules may be outdated
WASHINGTON—The FCC’s proposed elimination of the sports blackout rule could drive major league sports off broadcast television and onto Pay-TV, warns the NAB. Among other limits, the current rule allows the NFL to blackout games on local TV in certain markets until a certain percentage of tickets in those markets  have been sold.

The Association’s strong response came after FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that could end the decades-old blackout rules.” The FCC is doing this because “Changes in the marketplace have raised questions about whether these rules are still in the public interest,” Clyburn said in a statement. She cited high ticket prices and the poor economy as reasons for possibly ending TV blackouts.

The NAB is no fan of sports blackouts, said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton. “However, we're concerned that today's proposal may hasten the migration of sports to pay-TV platforms, and will disadvantage the growing number of people who rely on free, over-the-air television as their primary source for sports,” Wharton said in an NAB statement. “Allowing importation of sports programming on pay-TV platforms while denying that same programming to broadcast-only homes would erode the economic underpinning that sustains local broadcasting and our service to community."

Speaking on background, an NAB source said that eliminating sports blackouts could motivate major league sports teams to move currently over-the-air games to Pay-TV. This would effectively blackout the game locally – boosting potential game ticket sales to broadcast TV viewers – while giving the teams and cable/satellite TV providers a way to make money from Pay-TV customers.

The NAB’s fear is in line with Clyburn’s statement that, “Elimination of our sports blackout rules will not prevent the sports leagues, broadcasters, and cable and satellite providers from privately negotiating agreements to black out certain sports events.”

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Posted by: Anonymous
Wed, 11-06-2013 09:44 AM Report Comment
Think of how many communities across the US have paid subsidies to sports teams for stadiums and other facilties. Now the teams get to further disinfranchise those who cannot afford pay TV by dropping their games from local, free broadcasting. Do you think that these people should pay taxes to support the teams when they also have to pay to watch them on ESPN?

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