Buffalo, NY (WBEN) As the Buffalo Bills face their first TV blackout of the season, it could be the last one ever. The FCC has issued a ruling calling for the repeal of federal policies contributing to sports events being blacked out.
In a report issued today, the FCC concludes in part:
“We propose to eliminate the sports blackout rules. With respect to professional football, the sport most affected by the sports blackout rules, it appears from the existing record that television revenues have replaced gate receipts as the most significant source of revenue for NFL clubs in the 40 years since the rules were first adopted. Moreover, the record received thus far indicates no direct link between blackouts and increased attendance at NFL games… Thus, it appears that the sports blackout rules have become obsolete. Accordingly, if the record in this proceeding, as updated and supplemented by commenters, confirms that the sports blackout rules are no longer necessary to ensure the overall availability to the public of sports telecasts, we propose to repeal these rules.”
Matt Sabuda of the Buffalo Fan Alliance, which has been fighting sports blackouts is thrilled. "The rule is archaic. It may have sense in previous decades, but it doesn't any longer," says Sabuda. "We hope this is another step that the NFL moves toward recognizing this on its own and I think that's the direction it's going." The NFL has already given teams the option to lift the blackout with 85 percent capacity sold.
“For the last 40 years fans that have supported their hometown teams through their patronage and tax dollars have been unfairly shut out of watching games,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “With today’s ruling by the FCC we end the federal role in this unfair process and add momentum and public pressure to a full-scale end to sports blackouts.”