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.
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.