Sports Blackout Rules on the Ropes? [telecom]

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 > rules. > > 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.


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Neal McLain

***** 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

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Neal McLain
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