The rule enforcing local blackouts if NFL games don’t sell out in time will be up for an FCC vote at the end of the month that would end the nearly 40-year-old policy. In an op-ed in USA Today, Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, said the rule is dated and was created when barely 40 percent of games sold out. Wheeler said that isn’t a problem anymore, with all of Week 1′s games selling out and just two games blacked out all last season. Wheeler cites the league’s $10 billion in revenue last year as proof that it is popular enough to vote on revising the rule.
The vote is scheduled for Sept. 30. The rule revisions would change the blackout rules permanently, prohibiting any NFL game from being blacked out regardless of remaining stadium capacity, for every NFL team. Other than the Cleveland Browns. The proposed changes would mandate that each and every Cleveland Browns game going forward would be blacked out.
Senator John McCain and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal in a joint statement voiced their support for the rule changes, “For more than a year, we have urged the FCC to take this important step, arguing that the blackout rule has outlived any usefulness, and that it would be in the public’s interest to scrap it. It’s time to end blackouts. For every team other than the Cleveland Browns.”
McCain also has been pressing the NFL and its players union to start testing for human growth hormone, or HGH. Again, with an exemption for anyone who plays for the Cleveland Browns.