As the Indianapolis Colts prepare to take the field for Monday Night Football, a long-standing rule designed to protect National Football League attendance could soon be on the way out. A Federal Communications Commission vote set for the end of the month could end the so-called “blackout rule,” which prevents stations from broadcasting a game in the local market if it doesn't sell out within 72 hours of kickoff. Last season, local TV coverage of playoff games in Indianapolis, Green Bay and Cincinnati were threatened when ticket sales lagged. Bose McKinney & Evans LLP Counsel and former Indiana University McKinney School of Law Dean Gary Roberts says the rule is working.
The regulation was adopted in 1975, at a time where many felt the NFL needed help to remain competitive.
In 2013, only two games were blacked out.
In an op-ed for USA Today last week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said “we at the FCC shouldn't be complicit in preventing sports fans from watching their favorite teams on TV. It's time to sack the sports blackout rules for good.”
Three commissioners will need to agree to end what he believes is an outdated policy.
Gary Roberts tells Inside INdiana Business if the rule disappears, it could open the door for the league to pull non-sold-out games from TVs anywhere.
Some teams are currently allowed to get an exemption from a blackout if they only sell 85 percent of tickets, as the Cincinnati Bengals did last season.
The FCC vote could take place September 30.
Source: Inside INdiana Business