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FCC commissioner: 'Time has come' to repeal NFL blackout rule

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Could the FCC help repeal the NFL blackout rule?
Could the FCC help repeal the NFL blackout rule? (USATSI)

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Each year the NFL's blackout rule claims a game or two for local fans (not to mention the other major sports as well). One of the members of the board of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, says that needs to change.

Pai spoke to a crowd in Buffalo and said, via SB Nation, the "time has come" to repeal the blackout rule, around since the 1970's in the NFL.

"The time has come for the FCC to repeal its sports blackout rule," Pai said. "Why do I say that? After carefully reviewing all of the arguments, I don't believe the government should intervene in the marketplace and help sports leagues enforce their blackout policies. Our job is to serve the public interest, not the private interests of team owners."

Under the current NFL setup, if a game isn't sold out 72 hours before the game being played, it's blacked out in the home market for the team in question. The league can grant an extension

Pai emphasized the FCC sits, with their current ruling, on the "side of blackouts."

"Right now, the FCC is officially on the side of blackouts. We should be on the side of sports fans," Pai said.

Pai then went on to ask his fellow FCC commissioners (a board of five individuals) to "hold an up-or-down vote on ending the sports blackout rule."

Even if the FCC does vote to eliminate the rule, it won't magically disappear. There's still a lot of, you know, legal hoops to jump through.

By and large, blackouts aren't a major issue for the NFL, which sees a substantial investment by fans and sponsors into season tickets each year.

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