In the final hours of her final workday as Acting FCC Chairwoman, Mignon Clyburn announced that she has circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to eliminate the long-standing sports blackout rules. First adopted in 1975, the sports blackout rules prevent a cable operator from providing the live sporting event from a distant station where the game is blacked out on the local broadcast station. The rules also apply to satellite carriers.
The sports blackout rules have come under fire in recent years, led by a group called the Sports Fans Coalition. In February 2012, the FCC’s Media Bureau issued a Public Notice on a Petition for Rulemaking filed by the Coalition and other public interest groups. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have urged the Commission to eliminate the rules.
In the statement announcing that she was circulating the NPRM, Acting Chairwoman Clyburn noted that: “Elimination of our sports blackout rules will not prevent the sports leagues, broadcasters, and cable and satellite providers from privately negotiating agreements to black out certain sports events.”