Sports Blackout Rules on the Ropes? [telecom]

Posted on CommLawBlog on December 29, 2013 by Dan Kirkpatrick

| 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 ... [snip] | | 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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And even if ESPN or some other sports network carried it, cable TV still had to black it out if no local station carried it. Try explaining that to a half-drunk irate caller.

Neal McLain

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Neal McLain
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