FCC's Pai supports repeal of NFL TV blackout rules - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

FCC's Pai supports repeal of NFL TV blackout rules

Posted: Updated:
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Ajit Pai called the NFL's television blackout rules "outdated," and urged his fellow Federal Communications Commission representatives to vote in favor of having them repealed to address fan concerns.

"Right now, the FCC is officially on the side of blackouts. We should be on the side of sports fans," Pai said during a news conference in Buffalo on Tuesday. "The FCC shouldn't get involved in handing out special favors or picking winners and losers. And in my view, there is no reason for the FCC to be involved in the sports blackout business."

Pai, one of five FCC commissioners, became the first to speak out in favor of eliminating the NFL policy the FCC instituted in 1975. The regulation prevents games that are not sold out 72 hours in advance of kickoff from being broadcast in the home team's market by cable and satellite providers.

The FCC first weighed in on sports blackout policies in December, when commissioners voted unanimously to seek public input on the issue.

Pai is now calling for FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to put the issue to a vote. A simple majority from the five commissioners, which include Wheeler, is required.

Wheeler has not indicated whether he intends to bring the issue to a vote.

Pai was joined by U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, who has argued against the NFL's blackout policy and how it has specifically affected Buffalo Bills fans over the past few years.

The Bills had one home game blacked out last season, two in 2012 and three more in 2011.

The NFL is against having the policy repealed by arguing it would undercut blackout agreements the league has with its network broadcasters.

Two weeks ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell questioned whether a lifting of the policy on cable and satellite providers would potentially lead to fewer games broadcast for free on over-the-air networks.

"We are 99 percent sold out, so it has very little impact on our business," Goodell said. "But it could have an impact on the overall business model for free television. We think that's devastating to our consumers and consumers in general."

The NFL and its network broadcasters have established a "Protect Football on Free TV" campaign, and appointed Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann as its spokesman.

"Repealing the rule may lead to unintended consequences and deny viewers of valuable sports programming on broadcast television," Swann said. He then noted more than 10,000 community leaders across the country have sent letters urging the FCC to keep the blackout policy in place.

Pai has met with NFL officials and said he's not swayed by their arguments.

"They've obviously urged us to retain the rule. But in my own view, their arguments don't persuade me," he said. "I certainly hope the business model doesn't change. And I'm confident it would actually thrive and bring more fans and broaden the base in terms of television viewing audience."

Pai noted that repealing the FCC's blackout policy wouldn't prevent the NFL or its teams from privately negotiating its own rules with cable and satellite companies.

Higgins has gone further by introducing a bill that would eliminate the antitrust exemption that allows the NFL to black out sporting events.

___

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Ohio/Pennsylvania NewsMore>>

  • Man steps in front of truck, sets himself on fire

    Man steps in front of truck, sets himself on fire

    Monday, September 15 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-09-15 23:14:38 GMT
    OBERLIN, Ohio (AP) - Authorities say a man stepped into traffic on a northeast Ohio highway and then set himself on fire. Ohio State Highway Patrol officials say 28-year-old Hugo Ramos of Cleveland pulled to the side of the highway, stepped into the road and was hit by a truck. Ramos then got up, retrieved a container of gasoline from his car, swallowed some of it, poured the rest on his body and then set himself on fire as three children sat in his car. Officials say a bystander extinguishe...More >>
    OBERLIN, Ohio (AP) - Authorities say a man stepped into traffic on a northeast Ohio highway and then set himself on fire. Ohio State Highway Patrol officials say 28-year-old Hugo Ramos of Cleveland pulled to the side of the highway, stepped into the road and was hit by a truck. Ramos then got up, retrieved a container of gasoline from his car, swallowed some of it, poured the rest on his body and then set himself on fire as three children sat in his car. Officials say a bystander extinguishe...More >>
  • Police: Man lying in road struck by car, killed

    Police: Man lying in road struck by car, killed

    Monday, September 15 2014 10:29 AM EDT2014-09-15 14:29:55 GMT
    HERMINIE, Pa. (AP) - Authorities say a man apparently lying in the road in front of a western Pennsylvania high school was struck and killed by a car. Officials in Westmoreland County said the accident happened shortly after 1:40 a.m. Monday in front of Yough High School in Sewickley Township. State police said the pedestrian was apparently lying in the northbound lane of Lowber Road when he was hit by a car. Police said the driver reported seeing what appeared to be an object in the road an...More >>
    HERMINIE, Pa. (AP) - Authorities say a man apparently lying in the road in front of a western Pennsylvania high school was struck and killed by a car. Officials in Westmoreland County said the accident happened shortly after 1:40 a.m. Monday in front of Yough High School in Sewickley Township. State police said the pedestrian was apparently lying in the northbound lane of Lowber Road when he was hit by a car. Police said the driver reported seeing what appeared to be an object in the road an...More >>
  • Central Ohio teen shot to death

    Central Ohio teen shot to death

    Monday, September 15 2014 9:58 AM EDT2014-09-15 13:58:15 GMT
    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A central Ohio teenager was shot to death over the weekend. The Franklin County coroner identified the victim as 17-year-old Reb Barbee. Police say the teen was shot at about 5 a.m. Sunday in Prairie Township west of Columbus. Friends and neighbors told reporters that Barbee stumbled into his home leaving a trail of blood. The Franklin County Sheriff's Office hasn't released any details of the shooting and hasn't announced an arrest. Copyright 2014 The Associated Press....More >>
    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A central Ohio teenager was shot to death over the weekend. The Franklin County coroner identified the victim as 17-year-old Reb Barbee. Police say the teen was shot at about 5 a.m. Sunday in Prairie Township west of Columbus. Friends and neighbors told reporters that Barbee stumbled into his home leaving a trail of blood. The Franklin County Sheriff's Office hasn't released any details of the shooting and hasn't announced an arrest. Copyright 2014 The Associated Press....More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms