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Television Entertainment

FCC Rejects Blackout Rules 135

Today the Federal Communications Commission eliminated its sport blackout rules, which prevented cable and satellite television providers from showing sporting events that were blacked out on a local station. It's common practice in the NFL to black out football games locally if the stadium didn't sell enough tickets. The ruling now removes government protections for the NFL's policies (the NFL can continue to black out local broadcasts). The FCC's decision is based on "significant changes" to the industry over the 40 years since the rules were adopted. Television has replaced ticket sales as the primary source of revenue, and the NFL is incredibly popular. They also don't think there's any chance the NFL will move its games to pay-per-view.
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FCC Rejects Blackout Rules

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  • Going Cable! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 30, 2014 @02:54PM (#48029403)
    I sincerely hope that they go cable only like the NFL threatened to do. The only thing that can stop the NFL and the misplaced US hero worship is their own greed.
    • by GTRacer ( 234395 )
      Look, I enjoy a good football game. It's something my parents and I have done from time to time, usually as the playoffs get closer. I also live in an NFL city, home to a lousy team which had to resort to trickery to get their stadium seating numbers to a point where they could sell / give away / foist tickets on people enough to lift the blackouts, plural.

      Help me out here - those of you who live where /good/ teams are, don't you normally avoid blackouts because your team is worth watching? Wouldn't it
      • Re:Going Cable! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tiberus ( 258517 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2014 @03:20PM (#48029615)
        Is it a question of worth watching or of worth watching in a stadium for $XXX? I'll never understand why someone pays that kind of money to sit in bad seats in the cold, wet etc. when they should be able to watch it from home. It's hard to fathom that ticket sales are worth more than TV rights any more. IMHO, all blackouts do is punish the fans who weren't going to buy a ticket anyway.
        • Re:Going Cable! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by David_Hart ( 1184661 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2014 @03:33PM (#48029733)

          Is it a question of worth watching or of worth watching in a stadium for $XXX? I'll never understand why someone pays that kind of money to sit in bad seats in the cold, wet etc. when they should be able to watch it from home. It's hard to fathom that ticket sales are worth more than TV rights any more. IMHO, all blackouts do is punish the fans who weren't going to buy a ticket anyway.

          People spend $$$ because it's a social event for most people who enjoy sports. Getting there early, setting up the BBQ, handing out with existing or new friends, talking about the sport team, etc... On top of that, it's a much more engaging when you are actually experiencing the event. Much like a live concert is a completely different experience than listening to it on Palladium.

          • Re:Going Cable! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2014 @03:40PM (#48029805) Homepage Journal
            Although, I must say, I enjoy all that tailgating and community get together MUCH with college football games here in the south, than I do for Pro games.

            Better looking and younger chicks at the college game day celebrations!! That and you don't have to go through something resembling TSA airport security like you do with the NFL these days more and more.

          • You actually GO to games and concerts IN PERSON? Even though you can watch it all on a smart phone, TV, or laptop? Let me guess, you also GO to the cinema also, even though you could just download the torrent. I guess I'll just never get "people" people.

            • by GTRacer ( 234395 )
              Actually, my wife and I do just that - we go to the cinema at least 25 times a year. Sometimes with the kids, sometimes without. It is most definitely a "shared experience" thing. No, we do not often buy sodas or snacks.

              The rest of the time we watch movies is via streaming service or Redbox (automated physical DVD rental kiosks).
            • by Khyber ( 864651 )

              Yea, ain't no smartphone, tv, or laptop coming with 50,000w of beat-your-ears-in sound system.

              • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

                I'd venture a guess the reason why is that you don't need 50k watts when the speaker is about an inch from your eardrum.

                • by Khyber ( 864651 )

                  My 5w headphones capable of shaking themselves off my head to Young Bleed's 'How Ya Do Dat' still aren't fucking loud enough for my pleasure.

                  And I stand next to 4kW stacks daily.

                  Still have nearly-perfect hearing, minus the really odd gap at 15kHz-16kHz (about 1.3kHz lower than the mosquito buzz frequency, which I can plainly hear at the age of 32.)

                  • Still have nearly-perfect hearing, minus the really odd gap at 15kHz-16kHz ...

                    Not odd at all. Were you exposed to CRT TVs or old monitors for an extended amount of time? Their flybacks operated at one of several freqs: NTSC is 15,734 Hz, PAL is equal to 15,625 Hz, PAL M is equal to 15,750 Hz [4hv.org] I wondered if TV/monitor technology was getting better over the years - the flyback scream got quieter and quieter as I got older. Turns out my ears were losing their sensitivity to it. I have a gigantic notch at those

                    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

                      Ooooh, good fucking point. You're right on that. I had HUGE CRTs (82 born) for over half of my life (I only ditched my 21" Trinitron 7 years ago and went LCD, so 25 out of 32 years of my life I've been exposed to CRT flyback scream.)

                      But, I can still 'hear/feel' it. I don't think I've lost that hearing totally, but there's definitely a sensitivity gap in that range.

          • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

            In the last few years I've gone to games and I've watched on TV. I'd never pay sticker price to go to a game again- TV is a MUCH better experience. No weather, no annoying asshole standing up in front of you, better food, better priced food and drink, instant replays, etc. If you're watching sports (rather than participating) its just better all around on TV. I'm more engaged at home.

            Funnily enough, I'd rather go to a concert. That's an experience. Sports in person don't do it for me, even if I like

      • Wouldn't it be the stinkers that have to be propped up by rules like this?

        The stinkers need to earn money to buy better players to become non-stinkers. So policies that hurt the stinkers, mean they will stink even more, and the NFL will become less competitive. Personally, I couldn't care less about the competitiveness of the NFL. The government should not be propping up their business model.

      • Help me out here - those of you who live where /good/ teams are, don't you normally avoid blackouts because your team is worth watching? Wouldn't it be the stinkers that have to be propped up by rules like this?

        I live in New Orleans...and it has only been in recent years (not this year apparently) that the Saints were anything but a losing team.

        For decades...fans filled the stands, wearing bags over their heads, but still..they were loyal and came to see the games. I know some games were blacked out in th

        • The games are fun to go to, but the folks that would like to advertize to you from the TV want their share of your time too. Not that there aren't folks advertizing to you at the game... it's just different.
      • Re:Going Cable! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Morpeth ( 577066 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2014 @03:39PM (#48029791)

        I live in a city with a good team with a decent fan base -- BUT we usually hear on the local news about the looming blackout threat most weekends.

        Personally, I'm like 'Fine, whatever... no better way to lose MORE fans than by preventing your local supporters from seeing the game'.

        Plus, maybe I'm a cheapo, but I consider the tickets, parking, food, etc. just too d-mn expensive to make it worth seeing it live. If they made the games more affordable for a family, maybe they'd have better luck filling seats.

        [As an aside, I'm a bit disillusioned with the NFL these days, especially protecting some crapastic people like Rice & Peterson among others, so I don't really care if the NFL struggles or not]

      • You must be in Atlanta.

    • I really, really, don't give a shit about football and never go out of my way to keep up on teams or try to watch games. I like football just fine; if a friend is watching a game, I'll watch it with them and go to their Super Bowl party. For me, this story doesn't matter at all - it won't affect the number of football games I watch this year at all. But considering how people are moving away from Cable, I wonder if actual football fans are anything like me.

      I like NOT paying for cable MORE than I like any

      • Well, there are plenty of football fans (and sports fans, in general) that will pay $$$ to watch a single game, and many more that like watching it on TV enough to schedule their lives around when the football game will be shown. Myself, I'll watch a game every now and then, and I have a general idea of how well the teams that other people in my family root for are doing.

        As for whether fans would follow their games onto cable, in the cases that they don't already have cable or satellite, I'm sure that's a
        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          If someone is a fan and doesn't have cable.Sat. then they aren't going to get it because of this ruling.
          The NFL needs to wake up and start selling streaming packages to whomever ants them.

          I know a lot of fans would would pay for that service, but since it's not offered, then end up going through UK sites.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        We can all settle down now people, Serenissima isn't affected AND he felt like he had to let us know.
        I can sleep easy tonight.

    • The only thing that can stop the NFL and the misplaced US hero worship is their own greed.

      Greed??? Why sir, I'll have you know that the NFL *always* provided local viewers with plenty of reasonably-priced $4,000 skybox tickets as an alternative to being blacked-out. It was quite charitable of them!

      • First, you should know that club sections and luxury seating has been exempt from the sellout/backout rules for, well, ever. The portion of tickets reserved for the visiting team are also excluded from the sellout/blackout rule. Teams themselves can buy their own tickets at $0.34 on the dollar to stay on TV as well. [And those 34% tickets are profit shared with other teams...]

        Regardless, only a couple of teams struggle with blackouts. I think the Bills have it the worst.

        As to options, NFL.com has been s

    • eh, the NFL will probably just headbutt the FCC in the bridge of the nose during a 'roid rage and forget about it next week.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The comfort of a big screen and my own snacks is all I need.

  • They might not move the stench-bowl games to pay-per-view, but they could easily do that with the "big match-up" of the week. Not that I give a shit.
  • What do they think what NFL Sunday Ticket is? Fans are essentially paying to watch their team when they live out of market.
  • This doesn't seem like much of a surprise with the FCC chairman being a former big cable lobbyist.
    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      Regardless... this is actually a Good Thing(TM) for those who watch sports.

      • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

        Perhaps. Remains to be seen what the long term effect is. What happens when the NFL is "forced" to go cable only. Or worse, shows games on an uber-expensive channel/package a la Sunday Ticket. Is it better to require fans to purchase cable tv or an "NFL package" to watch the team that their tax money often goes towards?

  • by Anon-Admin ( 443764 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2014 @03:16PM (#48029583) Journal

    Wait, Why is there a story about football on a site that is news for nerds? Move it to the News for Jocks site.... Wait, can they read?

    • by khellendros1984 ( 792761 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2014 @03:55PM (#48029925) Journal
      Because it's primarily a story about modernizing FCC regulations, not primarily a story about sports themselves. I doubt that a sports site would be as interested in the legal aspects of the change; they'd be more interested in the practical effects (i.e. that they get to watch more sports). Discussing legal ramifications of a regulatory change seems pretty nerdy to me.
      • Ding, ding, ding! ... sorry, no mod points...
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        ". Discussing legal ramifications of a regulatory change seems pretty nerdy to me."
        ANd there are a lot of site that specialize in law that are discussing it. /. is the worse place to discuss it because there are no experts here, and most people haven't even read the FCC ruling itself.

        "Discussing legal ramifications of a regulatory change"
        I don't think people spouting off their incorrect interpretation of the ruling and having no legal background actually count as a discussion so much as it is angry wankery

        "

        • "Angry wankery" or not, my point was that the story wasn't primarily about sports, and that discussions of legal technicalities would fit under the banner "News For Nerds" just fine. Stupid discussion is still discussion, it just isn't reasonable debate.
  • Lot of good it looks like it will do...only two games were blacked out as of last year...this seems like fairly inconsequential news.
  • by mwn3d ( 2750695 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2014 @03:25PM (#48029659)
    The NFL can still black games out. I guess they'll just have to negotiate the rules with the cable networks? If that's how it goes then games will still get blacked out all the time because the networks won't give up the NFL over that rule. Maybe I'm reading this wrong.
    • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2014 @03:35PM (#48029751) Homepage

      I guess this means that the NFL can still blackout the games but they can't say "Don't be mad at us! The big, bad government made us do it." In other words, they can blackout games but they will be the ones in the fans scream at.

      • by mwn3d ( 2750695 )
        I dunno about you but I always yelled at the NFL for it. I assumed it was their idea.
        • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

          Blacking out games has always been the NFL's idea, but it use to be even worse. With the original policy, all games in the home market were blacked out, even playoffs and championship/superbowl games. When teams first started broadcasting all their games, there was a very large drop in attendance as a result, hence the "need" from the teams/NFLs point of view for the blackout rule.

          It wasn't until Washington was denied viewers in 1972 and Washington's politicians missed watching their team that things chang

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      It means if it's broadcast in non blackout area, the cable/sat can play it in the local area. here, the doc. explains better than I:

      The Federal Communications Commission today repealed its sports blackout rules, which prohibited cable and satellite operators from airing any sports event that had been blacked out on a local broadcast station. The action removes Commission protection of the NFL’s current private blackout policy, which requires local broadcast stations to black out a game if a te

      • by mwn3d ( 2750695 )
        Yeah so they're not required by law to black it out but the NFL will probably still want that to happen so they get ticket/concession sales. So then they'll just set it up in the contract with the cable networks to work the same as before and the cable networks will go with it because people watch the NFL and they don't want to lose that. Cable networks get eyeballs on the screen and the NFL gets butts in seats. Everyone wins but us.
  • What about baseball? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2014 @03:43PM (#48029829)

    Major League Baseball has one of the most draconian and bizarre blackout policies even conceived - and it's not mentioned in that document at all. So I am wondering how a ruling about the NFL's policies is being interpreted as "FCC rejects blackout rules".

    Oh, and MLB also has an exemption from the Sherman Antitrust Act.

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      Yep. You can't get local games on MLB.tv. EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE PAYING FOR IT!!!!

      • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

        Well, you *can* get the radio version live. And you *can* watch the local game after a certain time has passed (one hour after the game is over?) But no, you can't watch them live.

        Still pretty obnoxious, though.

    • Major League Baseball has one of the most draconian and bizarre blackout policies even conceived - and it's not mentioned in that document at all. So I am wondering how a ruling about the NFL's policies is being interpreted as "FCC rejects blackout rules".

      Uh, perhaps because the two parties in question here are the FCC and the NFL?

      If I read about a lawsuit surrounding Toyota recalls, I don't expect to find Chevrolet in the discussion just because they are also an automaker.

      I'm sure if the NFL policy changes dramatically, the MLB fans will try and table their policy too. Perhaps it's a bit different of a priority when you're talking about 140+ games compared to sixteen.

      • Uh, perhaps because the two parties in question here are the FCC and the NFL?
        If I read about a lawsuit surrounding Toyota recalls, I don't expect to find Chevrolet in the discussion just because they are also an automaker.

        But in your hypothetical case you also wouldn't expect the story to refer to all "automotive" recalls - you'd expect it to say "Toyota".

        The lede from this story says "Today the Federal Communications Commission eliminated its sport blackout rules, which prevented cable and satellite television providers from showing sporting events that were blacked out on a local station". But the FCC hasn't eliminated all blackout rules... only the ones specifically pertinent to the NFL.

    • Major League Baseball has one of the most draconian and bizarre blackout policies even conceived

      There's nothing bizarre about it...MLB wants you to watch games on the network that pays them the most money. In order from most to least:

      1. You must watch a "national network" (Fox, ESPN, TBS, etc.) if it is carrying the game.
      2. You must watch your local regional sports network, if it is carrying the game.
      3. You must watch a local OTA channel, if it is carrying the game. Note that some regional sports networks partner with local stations for some games, and either channel is then considered to be the RSN.
      4. You mus
    • All the major sports leagues have an exemption. It's nothing new.

      I assume the blackout protection expires for all sports, not just the NFL. But the NFL is the current big and bad (not just headline wise; we're also in the middle of the regular season when blackouts are most likely to happen), so they get the mention.

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom ( 2244874 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2014 @04:16PM (#48030097)
    Okay, our team is unpopular, how we going to fix this?

    I know boss, lets prevent people from watching the games.

    But won't that mean we'll have less fans in the long run?

    No, we figure our team is just going to lose and we don't want anyone to see it .

    Genius! Black out the game!
  • Pay Per View (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rssrss ( 686344 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2014 @04:20PM (#48030137)

    "They also don't think there's any chance the NFL will move its games to pay-per-view."

    ROTFLMAO.

    What are they smoking? The NFL will go PPV, ASAP.

    Book it.

    • if you think it's going PPV, you fundamentally misunderstand the role of 'circus' in 'bread and circus'.
    • Not a marketing guy here, but aren't the commercials for the Super Bowl the most expensive to produce and gain the most eyeballs? Can PPV only make up for the lost advertisement revenue?

    • "They also don't think there's any chance the NFL will move its games to pay-per-view."

      ROTFLMAO.

      What are they smoking? The NFL will go PPV, ASAP.

      Book it.

      And as soon as they do, the rest of America will cancel the cable bundles they only pay out the nose for because of the live sports channels, where PPV fees are the straw that breaks the camel's back. The entire cable industry will collapse overnight, and the vacuum in the ISP market will be filled by startups and municipalities with gigabit fiber and competitive pricing. Then the under-served talent in America will finally be productive and solve global warming, and all the polar bears will have yachts a

    • Sure the NFL will go PPV. And the networks will replace NFL with MLS.

    • by kybred ( 795293 )

      Pay per view sounds good to me; they pay me and I'll watch it!

  • Can the FCC eliminate broadcasting professional and collegiate sports entirely?
    Fuck that shit, and fuck having to pay for 8 dedicated channels of it on my cable subscription when I don't watch that fucking shit.

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