Washington – Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., had a big victory in his campaign to end sports blackouts of broadcasted games on Tuesday as the Federal Communications Commission unanimously decided to end its “sports blackout” rule.

Blumenthal had lobbied FCC commissioners to end the rule, which blocked broadcast of a game if a stadium failed to fill its seats. Affecting many professional football games, the idea was to encourage people to attend games to help support the National Football League financially.

But several FCC commissioners have criticized the rule lately. They say it hurts sports fans.

So does Blumenthal.

“The sports blackout rule unfairly harms consumers by punishing fans in cities with large stadiums and declining populations,” he said. “The FCC did the right thing today by removing this antiquated rule, which is no longer justified by facts or simple logic. Even as the NFL made millions upon millions of dollars off of broadcasting rights, they continued as recently as this season to threaten fans with unnecessary blackout restrictions.”

Blumenthal had teamed with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to introduce a bill that would have ended the blackout rule through legislation.

In its ruling, the FCC said its decision may not end sports blackouts because the NFL may continue its private blackout policy.

However, the NFL will no longer be entitled to the protection of them Commission’s sports blackout rules. Instead, the NFL must rely on the same avenues available to other entities that wish to protect their distribution rights in the private marketplace,” the FCC ruling said. 

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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