John McCain Blasts NFL After Three Playoff Games Barely Avoid Blackouts

NFL Blackout Rules Greenbay
David Banks/Getty Images

Viewers in Green Bay, Indianapolis and Cincinnati will be able to watch their team’s NFL playoff games, after a coordinated effort was made to make last-minute purchases of tickets to make sure that the games sold out and didn’t invoke blackout rules.

That’s a good thing for broadcasters, the NFL and other major league sports teams that oppose an FCC proposal to end its blackout rule, as such high-profile blackouts likely would have only given more momentum to efforts to eliminate the regulation.

Nevertheless, critics jumped on the last-minute reprieve to argue that blackout rules are unfair. If the FCC ends its rule, it would have no impact on the ability of sports leagues to put such provisions in private contracts with broadcasters.

But Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are cosponsoring legislation that would require that the NFL make games available on the Internet during a blackout or risk losing its antitrust exemption. McCain said that the reprieve of this weekend’s playoff games “should serve as an example to all sports fans of how poorly many rules and regulations are serving consumers and taxpayers today.

“The fact is that the NFL in particular enjoys numerous benefits paid for by tax-paying consumers, through antitrust exemptions, tax exemptions and publicly financed stadium construction,” McCain said in a statement. “Consumers should be the beneficiaries of these arrangements, yet this episode shows that is not the case. The original aim of the league’s blackout policy is no longer logical in today’s marketplace.”

In general, the blackout rules call for a certain amount of a stadium’s seats to be sold before a game is broadcast locally. The FCC’s rule, which is nearly 40 years old, prevents satellite and cable providers from offering out-of-market feeds of games when a blackout is in place in a market.

According to the Green Bay Packers, corporate partners such as Associated Bank, local Fox affiliates and Mills Fleet Farm and Bellin Health stepped in to purchase remaining tickets on Friday and ensure a sellout. Fans face brutally cold temperatures as they watch the team face off against the San Francisco 49ers.

In Indianapolis, retailer Meijer purchased 1,200 tickets to sell out a Saturday playoff when the Colts face the Kansas City Chiefs. Kroger supermarket chain purchased “a large quantity of tickets” to ensure a sellout of the Cincinnati Bengals sellout against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. In both cities, free tickets are being offered to military veterans.

But Blumenthal said that fans should not have “to depend on a corporate white knight to buy out stadium.”

The NFL opposes the elimination of the blackout rule, as does the National Assn. of Broadcasters. They note that the number of games blacked out is at an historic low, and broadcasters warn that doing away with the rule will likely mean that more games will migrate to pay platforms.

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  1. Frederick Bailey says:

    Because Congress has given the NFL “exclusive rights”

  2. B Besler says:

    With all that is wrong with this country, why are Congressional officials concerned with a SPORT?! There is enough wrong without our government for them to concentrate on.

    • trey says:

      its not about sports, its about tax-exemption and public financing. If the public pays for a stadium then they have a right to see what goes in the stadium. And a 10 billion dollar a year company who is tax-exempt should not punish people who pay for facilities in which that company performs its operations in.

  3. tomj says:

    Who cares who John McCain is mad at today? With McCain it’s a daily rant that he’s mad at someone. Maybe the old goat should just retire.

    • craigbhill says:

      Luckily McCain will not run for reelection. Unluckliy he’ll remain in office till Jan 2017. Tho that sounds like forever, luckily that’s “only” 3 more years.

  4. jared says:

    I agree with him, now if McCain would only get rid of all the illeagal Mexicans it would also help. People have to work, you know.

    • Dark Reaver says:

      1- Illegals are only taking jobs fat lazy citizens refuse to take, due to their ego’s and fat/lazy lifestyles.
      2- If you want to make an argument against illegal immigrants, learn to spell. That is probably why your resume keeps getting rejected.

  5. johnny says:

    johnnysalami and Anthony weiner new radio show 970 the answer

    • craigbhill says:

      Furthermore, there are more Mexicans leaving the US for Mexico than there are Mexicans coming into, or trying to enter, the US. There is also a new exodus of Americans to Mexico and Central America, where costs are lower and the climate is in many cases more hospitable. So in toto US citizens are now invading Mexico, tho for once this influx is not trying to overthrow their government or steal their land.

      So all you white racists who hate people of color, drop “the Mexican problem” from your obsessions. Of course, you’re all so stupid you still think they’re moving en masse across the border. You’re behind reality by a good year plus, and behind common sense by a century.

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