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Senators Urge NFL’s Roger Goodell to Drop Blackout Policies

A day after the FCC abandoned its sports blackout rules, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are urging the NFL to voluntarily rescind its own policies that force stations to not air home games that don’t sell out.

“The NFL has received substantial benfits from the public in the form of antitrust exemptions, a specialized tax status, and direct taxpayer dollars that subsidize football arenas and sports stadium,” they wrote in a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “…The provision of these substantial public benefits requires that the NFL meet basic obligations to the American public and loyal fans, and this includes abandoning rules that punish those same fans.”

The FCC on Wednesday voted unanimously to end its 40-year-old sports blackout rule, but it didn’t mean an end to NFL blackouts. The regulation prohibited cable and satellite providers from picking up a feed of a game to air in a local market where the broadcast station blacked it out.

The NFL can still require that stations which obtain rights to games agree to blackouts if a certain number of seats remain unsold before game day.

McCain and Blumenthal authored legislation last year that would condition the NFL’s antitrust exemption on it agreeing to end sports blackouts.

“If the NFL fails to show leadership to finally end blackouts once and for all, Congress will be forced to act,” McCain and Blumenthal wrote.

Their letter is here.

 

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