NAB: Elimination of Sports Blackout Rule Would Be Detrimental in Long Term

In its comments Tuesday on the Sports Fans Coalition petition to the FCC to scrap the sports blackout rule, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) said that while it sympathized with sports fans in the "very few" markets affected by blackouts, "elimination of the rules will, in the long-term, be detrimental to all sports fans."

NAB echoed its initial comments that getting rid of the FCC rule, which prevents cable operators from carrying coverage of games blacked out on broadcast TV. It said it would undermine program exclusivity, which is essential to its business model, and would speed the migration of sports to pay TV.

NAB agreed with the coalition that eliminating the rules would not force sports leagues to end blackout policies. But while the coalition said the government should not prop up the league policy, NAB said getting rid of the blackout rule would essentially prop up pay TV at the expense of local stations and viewers.

NAB took aim at the coalition for its backing by Time Warner Cable and Verizon, and argued that the subtext of the petition is to weaken retrans rules "in a manner that would favor MVPDs."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.