On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in favor of a proposal to eliminate what is known as the “sports blackout rule” that makes it illegal for local networks to televise games that are not sold out.
Blackout rules were put into effect nearly 40 years ago to ensure sports broadcasts did not hurt ticket sales, but the FEC declared that “changes in the sports industry in the last four decades have called into question whether the sports blackout rules remain necessary to ensure the overall availability of sports programming to the general public.”
FCC commissioners will “begin collecting comments on the potential elimination” the rule.
As Reuters notes, though, “broadcasters have been an influential opponent of eliminating the FCC rules. They point out that the rules prevent cable and satellite providers from offering games that may be blacked out in local markets and that without such rules, the games would be available only to cable and satellite TV customers and not those relying on free TV.”
The FCC also noted that sports leagues can negotiate blackout agreements with broadcasters and cable providers.