Senators repeat calls to end sports blackouts

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) repeated their calls to end sports blackouts Friday.

In statements, the lawmakers pointed to three of this weekend’s games that faced potential blackouts and called for an end to the rules that allow sports leagues to keep games from being aired on television.

“As a result of the NFL’s arcane blackout rules, thousands of Colts, Packers and Bengals fans had no idea whether they would be able to see their home team play just hours before the playoffs kicked off,” Blumenthal said, touting a bill he and McCain introduced last year to end sports blackouts.

“The threat of a blackout is itself both injury and insult.”

In a statement of his own, McCain said that the near-blackouts “should serve as an example to all sports fans of how poorly many rules and regulations are serving consumers and taxpayers today.”

Currently, sports leagues can keep broadcasters from airing games if the stadium where the game is being played does not sell enough tickets. 

The Federal Communications Commission has rules that prevent other TV providers from showing those games. The FCC voted late last year to consider eliminating its rules.

“The NFL and other sports leagues that enforce blackout policies should not be rewarded with special regulatory status, antitrust exemptions and taxpayer subsidies,” Blumenthal said in his statement. 

“I call on Congress to combat these anti-consumer policies by passing the FANS Act, legislation Senator McCain and I introduced that would give fans fair access to their favorite teams.”

-- This story was updated at 4:53 p.m.

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