/// Organizations Accuse NFL of Coercing Stations to Buy Up Tickets to Avoid Blackout

February 24, 2014  |  Media Week

Did the National Football League strongarm broadcast networks and affiliates to purchase blocks of game tickets in order to avoid local blackouts during the 2013 season and to curry political favor? That's the stunning allegation made by the SportsFan Coalition and four other organizations in comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission, which is considering eliminating the sports blackout rule. Comments on the FCC's proceeding, introduced last fall, are due today. If true, the allegation could mark the beginning of the end for the 40-year rule that is universally hated by sports fans and politicians alike. Even the threat of a blackout—like this season when three of the four first-round playoff games came close—generated outrage, angst and a lot of press. Sports blackouts on local TV stations, which occur when the local team fails to the sell enough seats in the stadium. More common in recent years, the number of blackouts dropped precipitously from 16 to 2 . “This sudden and stark reduction, which just happen to coincide with the FCC proceeding and bills introduced in Congress, didn't happen by accident,” said David Goodfriend, founder and chairman of the SportsFan Coalition in a press call. “We believe that there was more to it.” In the FCC filing, Goodfriend said a senior professional sports executive told him during an in-person meeting that the NFL pressed broadcast networks to purchase unsold tickets to avoid blackouts.

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Organizations Accuse NFL of Coercing Stations to Buy Up Tickets to Avoid Blackout


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