FCC Repeals Sports Blackout Rules
As it was, the sports blackout rules were subject to many conditions, including specific notification requirements, and exemptions for small systems, significantly viewed stations and stations from hyphenated markets, as well as stations carried prior to 1972. According to the FCC, only two NFL games were blacked out last season.
Of course, elimination of the sports blackout rules does not mean that sports blackouts will end. Rather, they can still be enforced by contracts between the NFL and their affiliated television stations as well as through retransmission consent agreements with cable and satellite TV operators. However, the FCC will no longer be enforcing those private contracts through any federal government mandate.
The Commission’s News Release announcing the repeal can be viewed here and the text of the Report and Order is here. The effective date of the repeal will be 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, meaning the rules may still be in effect for the next six weeks or so, which would include much of the NFL’s current season.