FCC rightfully blackouts NFL’s TV policy

By Matthew Johnson, Sports Editor

Published in print Oct. 8, 2014

Perhaps the worst time period in league history from a public relations standpoint, the NFL was as giddy as a child on Christmas morning to begin anew this month after domestic violence scandals were discussed more than the actual games.

Though, once again this month, the league takes a hit as one of its long-standing rulings was superseded by the United States last week which had added millions to the league’s already gluttonous financial earnings.

Yet, the decision by the federal government should be a blessing for the NFL.

    On October 1, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in an unanimous decision five to zero, will no longer allow the blackout policy which favors the NFL to continue.

In the league’s blackout system, if a team is unable to sell enough tickets to fill their stadium for a game (85 percent of non premium tickets), then the NFL will “blackout” or not show the game on cable or satellite television for the local area, to the dismay of fans in the franchise’s region.

For teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Buffalo Bills, which have a history of low fan attendance, the “blackout” policy yearly affects the city’s area where home games are repeatedly in danger of not being shown in the area.

Since the league is a billion dollar industry (an industry with for some reason has a tax-exempt status) which each year topples its historical gains from the previous year, the fact that not as many tickets will be sold certainly will not leave a dent in the country’s largest robber baron.

For the average fan, tickets are usually too high to dump a part of their income on. Also, the price for parking as well as other merchandise sold at the game can be downright ridiculous for a person who could probably better enjoy the game among friends in their living room for a far less cost.

In the 40 year television plan, the league’s approach to television sought to gain a little extra since the NFL airs every one of its games on free, over the air television.

Yet, in publicly funded stadiums, the citizens of the state should not be punished if they choose to stay at home on Sundays to watch the NFL since they helped pay for the team’s facility.

Though “blackouts” have only affected two games last year, playoff games in Green Bay and Indianapolis were in danger of this NFL’s TV standards.

Two of the most dedicated and respected fanbases were in danger of not seeing their teams playing in their most important games of the season a year ago.

This was a black spot for the league that was rightfully corrected last week and though the NFL was forcibly ordered to change their policy, the league is better because of the FCC’s ruling.

As many industries change, so do the rules that establish their organization’s structure.

The NFL in 1975 was not the economic giant it currently is today. In an era where only 40 percent of stadiums sold out on game day and ticket receipts were the league’s primary source of income, the league had to push for fans to buy tickets.

Yet today, the league has so many sources of earnings such as: television networks, merchandise and advertising, the NFL does not need to rely on at the gate revenue to continue the juggernaut’s wheels from spinning.

In a time where fans are becoming more and more angry with their autumn obsession due to domestic violence and the Washington name change, though the NFL disagrees with the FCC’s ruling, it will temporary create an easing of tension with the league and its fans for now.



Categories: matthew johnson, Sports

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