Ohio Sen. Brown: NFL should revise blackout policy in sour economy

As football season gets underway, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is pressing the National Football League to revisit “blackout” policies that keep games off local television stations when they are not sold out.

In a letter late last week to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Brown says the league’s policy could prevent Ohioans from seeing Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns games on TV even though they can’t afford to attend them.

“While I understand the need for the league to sell tickets and maintain an attractive television product, NFL blackout policies should be revisited as our nation faces the worst economic crisis in generations,” Brown wrote in a Sept. 9 letter to Goodell.

“During these difficult times, working families are struggling to make ends meet. Although appealing, attending a football game is simply cost prohibitive for too many Ohioans. The average price for an NFL game ticket is $77 – nearly ten times the hourly minimum wage,” he added.

The policy keeps games off local stations if they are not sold out 72 hours before kickoff. According to a USA Today review this month, at least 11 teams could see blackouts in their home markets this season, continuing last year’s woes that saw blackouts at a five-year high of 22 games.

The Cincinnati Bengals “can’t rule out” blackouts, while none are expected for Cleveland Browns’ games, according to the USA Today probe.

Brown’s letter asks the NFL to “examine its current television blackout policies and develop solutions that allow for franchises to remain viable businesses, while allowing fans to enjoy the game they love, both in person at the stadium or on television at home.”

Both Ohio teams opened on the road this week and both lost – Cincinnati fell to the New England Patriots, 38-24, while Cleveland lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 17-14, in a blacked out game.


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