The FCC is set to vote on whether to repeal its sports blackout rule. Under their contracts with the NFL, local broadcasters cannot air a game that has not sold out (though the game may still be broadcast out of market). Under the sports blackout rule, pay TV operators are not permitted to make out-of-market stations carrying the blacked-out game available to viewers in the team's local market, even if doing so would otherwise be lawful.
The following statement can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:
“The sports blackout rule was a protectionist relic. Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Pai in particular deserve praise for their leadership on this issue.
“FCC rules should not reinforce a system that works against viewer choice. Private parties should not be able to use government regulations as an excuse to limit what people can see. While the NFL and broadcasters might still be able to use private contracts to restrict viewer access to programming, it should be clear that these restrictions are driven by business considerations and not public policy.”
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.