An anonymous reader writes with word of new movement on an old front: namely, the rule that makes it hard for sports fans to see coverage of local teams. The 39-year-old blackout rule basically “prevents games from being televised locally when tickets remain unsold.” The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in response to a 2011 petition by consumers, has decided to consider abolishing this rule. The National Football League (NFL) has of course objected, claiming that the rule allows it to keep airing their games on free TV. If that were to change and they would have to move to cable, they argue, the “result would represent a substantial loss of consumer welfare.” In their petition to the FCC, consumers point out that the NFL charges “exorbitant prices for tickets” which results in lower attendance. The blackout rule, they claim, therefore punishes fans by preventing them from watching the game if the NFL can’t sell enough stadium tickets. NFL yearly profits reportedly number in the billions. Even if the FCC supports the petition, however, sports leagues can and probably will privately negotiate blackouts to boost their revenue.
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