“Anti-Fan” Blackout Games to End?

NFL fans with dismal home teams could find TV blackout games a thing of the past thanks to a November petition that is now receiving comments. The November 14 petition now has a U.S. regulator reviewing the matter.

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked for comments on a petition filed by five groups that believe a 1975 rule “supports blatantly anti-fan, anti-consumer behavior.”  The 30-plus year rule prohibits “cable and satellite companies from carrying sporting events blacked out on local broadcast television stations to promote home-game attendance,” according to Bloomberg.

Brian Frederick, executive director of the Washington-based Sports Fans Coalition and a petition member, believes the FCC’s move to receive comments is “obviously very welcome news for sports fans. This is an unnecessary government regulation, and I hope after our conversation with them they see just how anti-consumer and anti-fan this rule is.”

The Coalition is a nonprofit advocacy group for fans. It accepts money from Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE:TWC) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), noted a coalition spokesman.

In the petition, the group focused on National Football League games and used the example of a Tampa Bay Buccaneers versus the Houston Texans event as a blackout game. This blackout is in a minority, as 95 percent of NFL games had been shown in their local markets, rising from last season’s 90 percent last season, according to NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy.

The four other groups who support the November 14 petition includes policy groups Public Knowledge and Media Access Project based in Washington, the National Consumer League, and consumer advocate Ralph Nader’s project, the League of Fans.

To contact the reporter on this story: Debbie Baratz at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com