The FCC said Thursday it has found little evidence of sports programming migrating from “free TV” to cable, although the agency said it will further scrutinize program deals cut between college football conferences and ABC, ESPN and regional cable sports webs.
The 1992 Cable Act required the FCC to study the sports migration issue and report back to Congress.
The agency said its initial analysis found that concern over the alleged shift of sports programming from local TV to cable is mostly unwarranted.
Pro football and college basketball “have not migrated to cable and are in little danger of doing so,” said the FCC in a statement.
The agency conceded there has been “slight” migration of pro basketball, baseball and hockey. Baseball migration “is mixed and tends to vary on a market-by- market basis,” according to the FCC.
The most troublesome migration appears to be occurring in college football. Program deals that allow ABC, ESPN and regional cable sports networks to lock up rights to college teams and conferences “may have a preclusive effect on the televising of games by local broadcast stations,” the FCC said.
The agency said it will study the issue further and provide a final report to Congress in late 1993 or early 1994.
Interim FCC chairman James Quello voted to accept the staff’s interim report on sports migration, but nevertheless said he is “personally quite concerned” about the subject.