WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) released the following statement following the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimous decision to end the Sports Blackout Rule. The rule is a 1970s-era regulation which allows the NFL to black out the broadcast of a local sports game when the game does not meet a sellout threshold.
“Today’s decision is a win for sports fans,” Brown said. “Since the 1970s, the federal government has supported the National Football League through policies put in place to drive fans into stadiums. While this policy may have once made sense, the NFL now generates nearly $9.5 billion in revenue. The FCC is right to eliminate this taxpayer funded backstop and I urge the NFL to pursue a similar fan-focused policy by lifting remaining league enforced blackout policies.”
The NFL is the world’s most profitable sports league. Despite this, blackouts have kept fans in Ohio, and across the country, from watching their home teams. This is despite Paul Brown Stadium costing local taxpayers $450 million and the City of Cleveland being required to contribute $850,000 a year to the repair budget for FirstEnergy Stadium.
Since 2010, Brown has fought on behalf of fans and taxpayers to eliminate the FCC’s Sports Blackout Rule. In July 2012, Brown joined U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) in a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging the NFL to remove the financial penalty for teams that choose to air games that have not been sold out.
In December 2013, Brown applauded the unanimous decision by FCC commissioners to take steps toward repealing the outdated Sports Blackout Rule. The announcement followed a letter by Brown in November 2013 to FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler urging the Commission to reexamine the current rule.
Last month, Brown joined a bipartisan letter to FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler urging the FCC to eliminate the policy at its September 30th meeting. The letter was also signed by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Tom Harkin (D-IA).