DON’T GET ME STARTED snickered when I read that the FCC is getting involved in the NFL blackout policy.  This was addressed by Alan Pergament in the Buffalo News.  He rightly indicated that such a move would probably hurt small market cities like Buffalo.

I really feel that the FCC back off of any proposal to overturn the current rules where teams that don’t sellout 72 hours in advance would have that game blacked out in that home city.

I such a proposal to have teams televise games regardless of number of tickets sold is one that should never be offered.  Owners would be screaming since it probably woul bring fewer fans to the games, especially in November and December that would cost owners in the millions of dollars.

Furthermore in those small markets like Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Oakland  where the populations aren’t as huge as those in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Washington.  These and other heavily populated teams can sell out the games while the smaller markets would have fans staying home, especially during bad weather games.

Take Buffalo.  What would prevent Ralph Wilson from moving the team if he knew that he would be losing a ton of ticket revenue.  Certainly Toronto would probably be begging to have him move there.  The NFL, recently, mentioned London as a place that might be ripe for a team.

Let’s also remember, LA had two teams who left – the Rams and Raiders.  Reason?  Poor fan support.  Constant blackouts.   The same could be the case if the current blackout rule was discarded.

Remember – NFL owners would certainly support such a move since the visiting teams get a share of ticket revenue.  The more fans in the park – the more both teams make.

Now why do I mention “hasty” in my lead?  The FCC, in the past, has made some moves which backfired.  Let me give you one example.  I was in charge of programming 7 major market radio stations in the early 70’s.

Suddenly the FCC sent a Notice to all over-the-air stations expressing its concern over the drug lyrics contained in music.  That seemed like intimidation but since license renewals occurred every 3 years, safe action was made.  Brewer & Shipley’s “One Toke Over the Line” was taken off the play list.

Shortly thereafter, the FCC sent another Notice – this time stating that the FCC cannot dictate what stations program but insisted that licensees (owners) bear the responsibility of knowing what is being programmed.  “One Toke” was returned to the play list.  Program Directors were instructed by GMs to make sure they listen to the lyrics of the songs, informing them if there are any controversial lyrics. GMs would report to owners and everything was hunky dory.

Today, with de-regulation of radio for the most part and license terms are more than double, many veteran programmers are greatly disappointed in what’s happened to radio.

So if the FCC could backtrack on that 70s edict, they must refuse to get into the blackout fray lest owners be tempted to move teams.  Fans who rejoiced over the proposal, should think of the consequences of any such move.

There is a better solution.  If the NFL published the average attendance of its stadiums and then uses that as a barometer, I think everyone would be happy.  Say, for example, if the average is 67,000 – then once that figure is reached 72 hours in advance, the game will be considered a sellout and games would be televised.  Suite tickets don’t count.

Teams would continue to make a big bundle of cash.

I’m also waiting for the networks to give their opinions of the FCC proposal on Don’t Get Me Started.

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