WASHINGTON, D.C. -- NAB today filed comments at the FCC opposing efforts by pay-TV giants to eliminate the sports blackout rules. The comments were filed in response to a petition by the Sports Fans Coalition, a group that is reportedly receiving funding from Verizon and Time Warner Cable and whose founder is the former head lobbyist for Dish Network.
In its comments, the NAB said elimination of these rules would "harm local broadcasters and localism" and "could accelerate the migration of popular sports programs from free to pay TV."
The sports blackout rules, along with network non-duplication and syndicated program exclusivity rules, provide "the foundation for local broadcast program exclusivity," the comments stated.
"None of these rules creates exclusivity on their own. Instead, they merely prevent pay TV operators from circumventing the exclusivity agreements through technology and the distant signal compulsory license on which these operators rely," the NAB comments stated. "Advertisers on local broadcast stations expect - and pay for - this exclusivity. If the Commission were to curtail broadcasters' ability to enforce that exclusivity, it would weaken broadcasters' capacity to attract advertising, thereby reducing their ability to pay for popular programming generally and to invest in local programming specifically."
If the FCC were to grant the Sports Fans Coalition's petition, the NAB argued, "fewer sports events would be accessible to all viewers, as sports fans would be required to pay for televised access to local games because those games would no longer be available free, over-the-air."
"Broadcasters understand and sympathize with fan frustration over sports blackouts," NAB's comments stated. "Ideally, no blackouts would ever occur. But elimination of the FCC's rules would not solve the problem, as Congress has codified sports leagues' rights to blackout home games."
For NAB's complete filing, click here.
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America's broadcasters. NAB advances radio and television interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at www.nab.org.