May 27, 2011   |No Comments

Fans Ask FCC to Help End Sports Blackouts

For Immediate Release:
Friday, May 27, 2011 Contact: Ben Fishel
(301) 908-4244 ben@sportsfans.org

Washington, DC – The FCC should revise its rules to put an end to the retransmission disputes between broadcasters and television providers that lead to sports fans missing games, SportsFans.org told the Commission in comments filed Thursday.

A copy of the comments can be found here.

“Sports fans have become a political football in retransmission consent disputes,” the filing said. “In the recurring smack-down negotiations between big broadcasters and big pay-TV companies, games are pulled right before the action starts, leaving fans in the cold. Fans who are vital to the success of sports and who have contributed through multiple public and private expenditures are treated like fumbled pigskins.”

In its filing Thursday, SportsFans.org pointed to several disputes, including the dispute between FOX and Cablevision that caused millions of fans in the New York City area to miss the first two games of the 2010 World Series.

“Take-downs of sports programming during retransmission consent disputes needlessly punish sports fans,” the filing said. “The Commission can and should do something. It has ample authority to take a number of actions. American sports fans would cheer for a referee that puts them back in the game.”

SportsFans.org specifically asked the FCC to waive the sports blackout rule, network non-duplication rules and syndicated exclusivity rules whenever a broadcast signal is taken down during a retransmission dispute so fans can still see the games.

“The Commission has long treated sports programming as distinguishable from other types of programming, whether in the context of special rules, such as the sports blackout rule or merger conditions designed to prevent the anti-competitive hoarding of regional sports networks,” the filing said. “In this proceeding, the Commission similarly can draw the line at using sports programming as a negotiating tool.”

SportsFans.org is a nonprofit established in 2009 that is fighting to give fans a voice on issues like media blackouts, high ticket prices, stadium construction and college football playoffs. In January, they launched Save Next Season, a campaign featuring a petition signed by thousands of fans calling on the NFL and NFLPA to guarantee there will be a 2011 season.

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