Sports fans just scored another touchdown in the fight to end anti-fan practices by the leagues. U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ) joined forces to introduce legislation today ending the leagues’ antitrust exemption for local sports blackouts and tying the remaining federal antitrust exemption to no more sports take downs during TV contract disputes. It’s a HUGE win for fans and a sign that momentum is on our side.
Sen. Blumenthal said: “Leagues that enjoy antitrust exemptions and billions of dollars in subsidies and other benefits should give their fans fair access to their favorite teams on TV. This legislation would protect fans who now get the short end of the stick from leagues that treat the public with contempt while continuing to enjoy public benefits. Fans deserve to be put first–or at least treated fairly.”
Sen. McCain said: “I am proud to join Senator Blumenthal to introduce the FANS Act, common-sense legislation that addresses archaic blackout policies and regulations that hurt sports fans around the country. While the FCC’S announcement last week that it would consider changes to the sports blackout rule is encouraging – and something we’ve urged in the past – legislation is still needed to improve this regulatory framework. The FANS Act would return the focus to the fans, consumers, and taxpayers who make these leagues as successful as they are.”
Sports Fans Coalition Chairman David Goodfriend said: ”Sports fans should not be treated like a fumbled pigskin every time there’s a fight between TV industry players. The FANS Act would get the job done. The idea is simple: if you’re a sports league and you want to use the federal antitrust exemption, you have to prohibit your distributors from taking down games during their contract disputes. In other words, if you want this big gift from the American people, then don’t drag them into your business negotiations.
Sports fans are grateful to Senators McCain and Blumenthal, two men with the guts to stick up for fans and stand up to the leagues. The American people have been subsidizing sports for a long time. It’s about time they got a return on their investment.