Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Vote to End NFL Blackout Policy to Commence Soon

Tom Wheeler

(Photo : Reuters) Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler

The National Football League (NFL) is attempting to repeal the 40 year old federal rule known as the blackout policy. Tom Wheeler, Federal Communications Commission Chairman, has scheduled the vote for September 30.

The NFL blackout policy states that a local or home game cannot be televised if it has not sold out 72 hours prior to start time. This gives the NFL the distinction of being the only sport that requires teams to sell out for their games to be shown on television.

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While the other major professional sports leagues in North America - NHL, NBA, and NHL - also have games that are blacked out, those still have a chance to play on their local regional sports network.

"There is no better example of an FCC rule that has outlived its usefulness and deserves to be eliminated than our sports blackout rule," Wheeler said. "Today, the rules make no sense at all."

He also goes on to say that professional football doesn't need the government's help in order to help boost ticket sales, and that the FCC should not prevent sports fans from watching their favorite teams on television.

If the law is repealed, it does not automatically mean that there will be no more blackouts though. The NFL can still enforce the blackout policy through television contracts.

David Goodfriend, the founder of Sports Fans Coalition, accuses companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable of, "using their market power to charge unreasonable prices for sports programming."

This allows for sports television content to be withheld from rival pay-television producers unless the companies are paid.

Wheeler only needs three votes out of five to repeal the law. Even though he is a Democrat, Ajit Pai, Republican Commissioner, has also voiced support for ending the blackouts.  

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