By Dan Kirkpatrick, CommLawBlog, December 29, 2013
FCC proposes to eliminate rules designed primarily to enforce
> NFL blackout decisions.
> Looks like the clock is running out for the sports blackout
> In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) the FCC has proposed
> their elimination, although the NFL, MLB, NAB and a number of
> network TV affiliates appear poised to mount a late-game
> defensive surge to try to save them. The outlook for the
> rules, however, isn't brilliant.
> The sports blackout rules as they currently stand generally
> prohibit certain multichannel video program distributors
> (MVPDs - think cable systems, broadcast satellite services,
> open video systems) from carrying, within a protected
> geographical area, a live sporting event not available live on
> a local over-the-air (OTA) TV station in that area. You can
> find the rules themselves in Sections 76.111 (cable
> operators), 76.127 (satellite providers), 76.128 (application
> of sports blackout rules), 76.1506(m) (open video systems) of
> the FCC's rules.
> Importantly, the rules themselves are not the source of sports
> blackouts; rather, the respective professional leagues
> determine the availability of OTA game broadcasts. The FCC's
> rules effectively impose league-initiated blackouts across the
> various MVPD services.
***** Moderator's Note *****
It's fourth-and-long at the FCC, as key players push for end-of-year gains in PR and hype!! The starting team is on the bench as the second stringers throw out holiday gifts to the ever-more-hungry media, setting up a possible turnover that leaves the opposition wishing they had punted!!!
The rules won't change: they benefit the "powerhouse" TV stations in each market, whose managers are determined to maximize advertising revenues by eliminating cut-rate exurban competitors in nearby satellite (pun intended) cities. There isn't a politician in America who would dare to go up against the hometown anchor teams.
Bill Horne Moderator