Heard on the Hill: Brown Against Black(outs)

Posted January 15, 2012 at 11:04am

Sen. Sherrod Brown is speaking up for those without a voice: Cincinnati Bengals fans.

The Ohio Democrat wrote an earnest letter to Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, decrying the Sports Blackout Rule — and the FCC listened.

According to Brown’s statement, the rule is “1970s-era regulation that allows sports leagues, like the [National Football League], to black out broadcasts of a local sports game when the game does not sell out.”

The Bengals and the Cleveland Browns (no relation to the Senator) played each other recently and, according to the Senator, [c]ountless Ohioans were “eagerly planning to gather with family and friends to watch this game” but were “deprived of the chance.”


The rule allows broadcasters to choose not to broadcast home games that have not sold out within 72 hours of game time, which means Dayton and Cincinnati taxpayers have only been able to see their team play at home from their home just once this season.


Never fear, however. Because of Brown’s impassioned plea, the FCC has decided to open the Sports Blackout Rule for comment.

Unfortunately, the Bengals’ season is over, thanks to the Houston Texans, so it won’t help them this year.

And even though precious few could root for the team from their couches in 2011, maybe they’ll get closer to watching more TV in the coming seasons.