Washington, DC (WBEN) Congressman Brian Higgins says it's time to put an end to all blackouts on sporting events. As Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. bought out remaining tickets to avoid a blackout of Sunday's game, Higgins introduced the FANS Act.
"In my home community of Western New York, there is a threat of a blackout for the next two home games. This means, that despite overwhelming community support, money spent on merchandise, and tax dollars being spent for stadium improvements, Buffalo fans will not be able to see their hometown NFL team on television…blackout rules are unfair, outdated and alienate fans. I will continue to fight until sports teams do the right thing for their fans,” Higgins told the House.
Higgins say the FANS Act:
· Removes the antitrust exemption that allows the NFL to blackout home games if they don’t sell out tickets
· Doesn’t allow cable companies to use the threat of blackouts as leverage in contract negotiations
· Asks leagues to make home games available on the Internet when a game is not available on television through broadcasters or subscription channels
· Applies the antitrust laws to Major League Baseball
Last year the National Football League owners passed a resolution allowing teams to decide to broadcast games locally when more than 85% of the seats are filled, but not all teams opted into this policy, including the Bills.
Earlier this month, the FCC circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking recommending elimination of the nearly 40-year old sports blackout rules.