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NFL blackout rule sacked via unanimous FCC vote

The NFL doesn't have the FCC's backing to enforce their archaic blackout rules anymore.

Otto Greule Jr

In a vote that matters a lot more to Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers fans than Denver Broncos fans, the FCC has voted unanimously to dump the NFL's old, archaic NFL blackout rules, ProFootballTalk reports.

"This is a historic day for sports fans," Sports Fans Coalition chairman David Goodriend said in a release.  "Since 1975, the federal government has propped up the NFL's obnoxious practice of blacking out a game from local TV if the stadium did not sell out.  Today's FCC action makes clear:  if leagues want to mistreat fans, they will have to do so without Uncle Sam's help."

It doesn't mean the blackout rule has died; the NFL and broadcast networks can agree to abide by its terms.  Today's decision means only that the NFL can't insist on network blackouts via an FCC policy that previously gave the NFL the ability to pull the plug.

The Broncos have sold out their stadium for decades; this doesn't impact Broncos fans as much. It could mean the beginning of the end for the Raiders in Oakland, and other markets like San Diego will have to find creative new ways to get butts in their seats on gameday. And that might trickle down to Denver some time down the line.

Update: Some reports suggest the FCC voted to end "sports blackout rules," not just the NFL's specific rule applying to ticket sales and sellouts. This means it may impact out-of-market Broncos fans who get blacked out from the Broncos game because another local team is airing on TV.  If you've seen verbiage in a report to this point either way, kindly let us know in the comments.