FCC asks for input on blackouts

NFL, Jaguars victims of blackout rule


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Federal Communications Commission is taking steps that could eliminate all sports blackouts. 

On Thursday, the FCC said it was seeking public comment on eliminating its own rules that have prohibited cable and satellite operators from carrying a game already blacked out by local broadcast stations.

The NFL, specifically the Jacksonville Jaguars, have been a victim to the blackout policy. 

The policy states that a home game will not be shown in the team's market unless it is sold out 72 hours before kickoff.

The Jaguars have been in danger of being blacked out several times over the past few seasons but haven't seen a blackout since 2009. 

There were 16 blackouts in 2011, including six Bengals games and five Tampa Bay Buccaneers games. When this happens, the team scrambles to sell all the seats necessary to ensure it will be aired on television.

The FCC has had the rule since the 1970s. The NFL and other leagues could oppose the elimination of the blackout rule because some see it as a financial necessity.  

When the rule first went into effect in 1979, half of home games were blacked out. In the 1980s, 40 percent were blacked out. In the 1990s, 31 percent were blacked out.

From 2001 to 2010 only 8 percent of NFL games were blacked out.