Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 4, 2015

Bengals Blackout Potential Draws Senator’s Ire

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The possibility of the National Football League blacking out wildcard playoff games in home markets is drawing the ire of lawmakers.

For instance, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is concerned that the Cincinnati Bengals’ home game against the San Diego Chargers won’t be seen in local markets because of unsold tickets at Paul Brown Stadium. That’s pursuant to a longstanding NFL policy.

“While the FCC’s recent unanimous vote to eliminate the Sports Blackout Rule is excellent news for fans and taxpayers across Ohio and across the country, the NFL should do everything it can to ensure that the Cincinnati Bengals’ Sunday playoff game is not blacked out,” Brown said in a statement Thursday.

Brown is one of several lawmakers to highlight the move by the Federal Communications Commission to do away with the regulation that allows the NFL to impose local blackouts for its games. Just last month, the FCC took the first step in the process of eliminating the rule.

Senators on both sides of the aisle lauded that action.

Arizona Republican John McCain and Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal have pushed a joint campaign against the rule, with McCain saying in a statement that the rule “is no longer supported by facts or logic.”

The pair has also offered legislation that would, among other things, eliminate the antitrust exemption enjoyed by professional sports as it pertains to local TV blackouts.

Part of the argument against the NFL blackout policy is that in many cases, including in Cincinnati, taxpayers paid for large portions of stadium construction.

This week, there have been reports of possible blackouts due to unsold tickets for the wildcard playoff games in three of the four cities hosting games: Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Green Bay, Wis.

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  1. Killadelphia

    Jan. 2, 2014
    6:01 p.m.

    Sheeshhh… I wish I could get my hands on any, play offs or season, tickets to eagles games.. With that being said, us Philly fans are always at games with them being sold out each every game… Now Philadelphia is a REAL SPORTS CITY. …. E-A-G-L-E-S …. NFL watch out Philly is coming to play in New York for that SB !!

  2. JMH21

    Jan. 2, 2014
    6:17 p.m.

    Brown should worry about issues affecting the nation. If there are tickets available then anyone that wants to see the game can simply buy a ticket. If enough of them do then others who choose not to buy tickets can watch it on TV. Where in the Constitution or any other law does it mandate that a private business must give way their product. This is all a bunch of political hot wind and nothing more.

    • Jerome

      Jan. 4, 2014
      2:14 p.m.

      taxpayers are stilling paying for the new stadiums and tax breaks provided to these privately owned teams,

      • JMH21

        Jan. 4, 2014
        2:56 p.m.

        Is anything else done in the stadium? Do the Bengals pay rent to use the stadium? If the answer is yes then this is a straight business deal and if the city of Cincinnati felt it was a bad deal they should not have entered into the deal.

        What about other businesses around the stadium? Would they exist without the stadium? Are they making money, employing people and paying taxes? Of course the answer is yes.

        These stadiums are built under the guise of economic development. If you don’t like the terms don’t do them but don’t later complain that you have some right to the, and I use your word “privately owned”, product for free.

  3. camdenme2

    Jan. 2, 2014
    6:59 p.m.

    This socialist needs to mind his own business !!! The senator needs to get Reid to move those employment bills off his desk !!!!

  4. papal

    Jan. 2, 2014
    8:55 p.m.

    Brown just wants to get some media of him sticking up for the little guy. If Brown really cared about the little guy he would have done something about NAFTA and trade with China like he initially promised when he ran for office and since elected has done nothing to fulfill his promises. If it comes from Brown, flush it down.

  5. ThomasNeidhart

    Jan. 3, 2014
    11:10 a.m.

    love all the BLOWHARD GOP haters going off on Sen Brown for sticking up for the taxpayers (typical right wing hate for doing the right thing, it’s what they do ya know!) who paid for the stadium, and should have a PLAYOFF game televised without being told, get your butts out there and buy tickets to that 20 degree game or we’re blacking it out!

    hey GOP blowhards… get a life…


    • JMH21

      Jan. 4, 2014
      2:58 p.m.

      My suggestion is do not build the stadium, let the Bengals move where they would sell the game out. Then blowhards like yourself can watch them for free but they won’t be Cincinnati’s team. i am not a Republican or Democrat but I know what a business deal is and what it is not. I suggest you get a life that is in the real world and not just one that expects to freeload off the government and everyone else.

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    Jan. 4, 2014
    2:13 p.m.

    Nationalize the NFL!

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    Jan. 6, 2014
    11:58 a.m.

    Why does Congress continue to allow the NFL a tax-exempt status in the tax code? Maybe it was necessary during the early days of the league, but now, it’s an affront to taxpayers. NFL can well afford to pay its own way.

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