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FCC may move to end NFL blackouts

---The FCC on Thursday took a step that may lead to the elimination of all sports blackouts, of which the NFL’s are the most notable. The commission said it was seeking public comment on eliminating its own rules that have effectively backstopped league policies by prohibiting cable and satellite operators from carrying a game already blacked out by local broadcast stations.

Several public interest groups including Sports Fans Coalition, as well as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) had asked the agency to reconsider its rule in light of numerous NFL blackouts in cities around the country.

"This is a huge victory for sports fans around the country," Sports Fans Coalition executive director Brian Frederick said. "The government is now shining the light on the antiquated business of sports blackouts. It's time for fans to let the FCC know how unethical and counterproductive blackouts are."

The NFL’s blackout policy dictates that for a home game to be shown in the team’s market, it must be sold out 72 hours before kickoff. There were 16 blackouts in 2011, including the Bills final three home games. The Cincinnati Bengals led the league in blacked out games with six.

---Rodney McKissic



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