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State Broadcasters to FCC: Keep Sports Blackout Rule

Add the 50 state broadcast associations to the list of those pushing back on an FCC plan to eliminate the sports blackout rule, which prevents cable and satellite operators from importing distant signal versions of games blacked out on local TV stations due to insufficient ticket sales.

The Fox and CBS affiliates weighed in Tuesday with their vote to keep the rules in the interests of protecting localism and the league's control of its own games.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler dated Aug. 12 as well, The National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations made similar points.

"The 50 State Broadcaster Associations, whose member stations serve communities across the country, hereby write to oppose the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) elimination of the Sports Blackout Rules (“SBR”). Our local television station members understand and share sports fans’ frustration with the few sports blackouts that occur, but eliminating the SBR will not put an end to blackouts and will instead harm our viewers."

The FCC last year proposed to eliminate the rule, saying essentially it was a marketplace negotiation that the FCC should get out of. Democratic FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was part of that unanimous vote, and has signaled he wants the Media Bureau to wrap up its review of comments on the proposal and vote the item by early fall.

Also this week, Republican Commissioner announced at a Buffalo sports bar that he, too, was definitely ready for the rule to go.