FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn has proposed ending the agency's nearly 40-year-old sports blackout rule, saying that changes in the marketplace have "raised questions" about whether they are still in the public interest.
Clyburn said that she circulated her proposal to other commissioners about eliminating the rules. Those rules vary widely according to the various professional sports leagues.
NHL, the focus is on protecting local stations with home-team rights, resulting in market-specific blackouts at times for national outlets such as ESPN and Fox.
"Changes in the marketplace have raised questions about whether these rules are still in the public interest, particularly at a time when high ticket prices and the economy make it difficult for many sports fans to attend games. Elimination of our sports blackout rules will not prevent sports leagues, broadcasters and cable and satellite providers from privately negotiating agreements to black out certain sports events."
In fact, the FCC says that in the majority of the cases, blackouts are a result of such agreements.
The blackout rules have been a bane to hometown fans of sporting events, some of whom would trek to other market areas just to gain reception to key games.
2013 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
TV Sports Blackouts to End? FCC Wants to Eliminate Rule
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.