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October 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If in the future, your local NFL team blacks out a TV telecast of a game in your area, it won’t be because of the existence of an FCC rule requiring such blackouts. In a 5-0 vote on Tuesday, the FCC chose to scrap the rule that bars broadcast and cable channels from airing local games when fewer than 85 percent of the seats have been sold 72 hours before kickoff. "It’s a simple fact: The federal government should not be party to sports teams keeping their fans from viewing the games. Period," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler."For 40 years, these teams have hidden behind a rule of the FCC. No more. Everyone needs to be aware who allows blackouts to exist, and it is not the FCC." Opponents of the blackout rule had argued that when it was passed, ticket sales were the teams’ principal source of revenue. No longer, they said. TV contracts are. To many, however, the overturning of the rule amounted to a pyrrhic victory. The NFL can still stipulate in its contracts with broadcast and cable companies that low ticket sales can trigger blackouts. And, as a practical matter, the NFL is so successful at filling seats that of 256 games last season only two were blacked out.