Press Releases

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) released the following statement applauding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) unanimous vote today to eliminate its federal sports blackout rule:

“Today’s unanimous vote by the FCC to eliminate its sports blackout rule is a victory for sports fans everywhere,” said Senator McCain. “The fact that the vote was a shut-out underscores the bipartisan agreement that the rule was antiquated and anti-consumer, and a good example of how both parties can work together to spike unnecessary regulations that protect special interests at the expense of everyday Americans. Today’s vote moves the ball down the field, but there’s still much work to be done to root out all of the various causes of sports blackouts. I urge the NFL to rescind its policies that continue to allow blackouts, or else Congress will act on this issue. Last year, Senator Blumenthal and I introduced the Furthering Access and Networks for Sports (FANS) Act, which would address this issue by requiring leagues to meet basic obligations to fans if they wish to continue receiving substantial benefits from the public, including their exemption from federal antitrust law. The American people are deeply disappointed in Washington’s seeming inability to accomplish much of anything, but today’s vote is worthy of a cheer.”

“The sports blackout rule unfairly harms consumers by punishing fans in cities with large stadiums and declining populations,” said Senator Blumenthal. “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. Today the FCC officially threw a flag on the NFL’s anti-fan blackout policy.”

Senators McCain and Blumenthal introduced the Furthering Access and Networks for Sports (FANS) Act of 2013 – complementary legislation that would remove the NFL’s antitrust exemptions, unless the league ends its practice of requiring broadcasters to blackout games that don’t sell out.