Brown to NFL: Kill blackout policy

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Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) urged the NFL on Thursday to kill its blackout policy amid reports the Cincinnati Bengals game could be blocked from appearing on Cincinnati-area TV sets due to unsold tickets.

“This is unacceptable at a time when the price of attending games continues to rise, and the economy is not yet where it needs to be,” Brown said. “Fans, through local taxes, often help pay for the stadiums. They should be able to cheer on their local teams, especially during the playoffs.”

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Brown said, despite a recent vote by the Federal Communications Commission to consider eliminating the 1970s blackout rule, Cincinnati might not be able to watch its team this weekend.

“While the FCC’s recent unanimous vote to eliminate the Sports Blackout Rule is excellent news for fans and taxpayers across Ohio and across the country, the NFL should do everything it can to ensure that the Cincinnati Bengals' Sunday playoff game is not blacked out,” Brown said.

The regulation allows the NFL to black out broadcasts of a local sports game when the game does not meet a sellout threshold. Eighty-five percent of seats have to be filled within 72 hours of kickoff in order to be aired locally.

On Sunday, the Bengals will play the San Diego Chargers in a playoff game. Brown said the NFL hasn’t blacked out a playoff game since 2002.

— Peter Schroeder contributed to this article.

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