FCC urged to end blackout rules

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FCC urged to end blackout rules

Marietta Daily Journal — Most people weighing in on a sports blackout rule are urging the Federal Communications Commission to scrap it.

Monday is the deadline for public comments on a petition by the Sports Fans Coalition to rescind the rule, which bars cable and satellite systems from carrying a sporting event that is blacked out on local broadcast television stations. The rule has effectively reinforced the NFL’s own policy, which blacks out games in home markets that aren’t sold out 72 hours ahead of time.

The agency has received about 140 comments, and an overwhelming majority favors the petition. That doesn’t count nearly 3,000 the Sports Fans Coalition also sent in from people clicking an email on the group’s website urging that the rule be repealed. The FCC grouped all of those in one filing, under “individual comments from fans.” Many of those urging the FCC to eliminate the rule argued that taxpayers have helped pay for the stadiums and should not have their home games blacked out.

Five Democratic senators filed comments with the FCC Monday urging it to reform the sports blackout rule.

“These blackouts are ruining the experience of rooting for the home team and are unjustly hurting fans,” wrote Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. “That many of these stadiums were constructed or remodeled using taxpayer dollars underscores the disservice done to fans by blackouts.” They called the NFL’s blackout policy “a relic of a different time.”

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