FCC spikes sports blackout rule

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FCC wants an end to sports blackouts.

The Federal Communications Commission has voted to spike a decades-old rule preventing cable and satellite operators from airing sports events that were blacked out on local TV.

The commission says the rule was outdated and unnecessary. It was originally adopted to help boost ticket sales in the 1970s.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says NFL teams have hidden behind the rule for 40 years, but no more.

But Wheeler acknowledges it may not spell the end to sports blackouts. The NFL would still be able to privately negotiate its own rules with cable and satellite companies — those agreements just wouldn’t have the backing of the federal government.

This relates to Major League Baseball telecasts in Hawaii as well. With the exception of 15 games KITV brings in each season of San Francisco Giants home games, local fans of Northern California major league baseball teams like the Giants and the Oakland A’s cannot watch their games because broadcast rights holder Comcast and Time Warner Cable (owner of Oceanic Cable) refused to cut a deal and have blacked out those telecasts in the islands. For example, if a Giants game is scheduled to be telecast on the MLB Network, it gets blacked out in Hawaii.

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