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Senators Laud FCC Rollback of Sports Blackout Rule

Heavy snow and ice has Booker and Menendez calling for more rock salt.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Heavy snow and ice has Booker and Menendez calling for more rock salt.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senators on Tuesday lauded the Federal Communications Commission’s move to do away with the rule that, in effect, keeps National Football League games that don’t sell out off the air in hometown markets.  

Sen. Cory Booker, who played tight end in college at Stanford University, was among the lawmakers thanking the FCC for taking the action on a unanimous vote .  

“I applaud the Commission’s move to repeal this decades-old rule, which prohibits loyal fans from accessing the games they love. Today’s vote at the FCC marks a big win for sports fans everywhere. Seeing your favorite team play will no longer depend on the NFL’s ability to sellout their stadiums,” the New Jersey Democrat said in a statement. “I look forward to tuning in – blackout free – this season.”  

New Jersey is home to the games of the two New York City-area football teams, which have long played in East Rutherford.  

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, whose home state doesn’t have an NFL football team (although there was once an ill-fated effort to lure the New England Patriots to the bank of the Connecticut River) also issued a statement.  

“The FCC did the right thing today by removing this antiquated rule, which is no longer justified by facts or simple logic. Even as the NFL made millions upon millions of dollars off of broadcasting rights, they continued as recently as this season to threaten fans with unnecessary blackout restrictions. Today the FCC officially threw a flag on the NFL’s anti-fan blackout policy,” he said.  

Blumenthal has teamed up with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an avid fan of the Cardinals, on a bill that would halt the NFL antitrust exemption unless it changes the blackout policy.  

In his statement, McCain warned the scrutiny won’t stop until the NFL itself takes action.  

“The fact that the vote was a shut-out underscores the bipartisan agreement that the rule was antiquated and anti-consumer, and a good example of how both parties can work together to spike unnecessary regulations that protect special interests at the expense of everyday Americans. Today’s vote moves the ball down the field, but there’s still much work to be done to root out all of the various causes of sports blackouts,” McCain said. “I urge the NFL to rescind its policies that continue to allow blackouts, or else Congress will act on this issue.”  

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