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FCC commissioner calls for an end to NFL blackout rules

A commissioner of the FCC says the organization shouldn't be catering to the "private interests of team owners" and is calling for an end to NFL blackout rules.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Ajit Pai, a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, is lobbying for change when it comes to NFL television blackout rules. Pai was in Buffalo on Tuesday and gave a speech on the FCC's rules, which make up one half of the NFL's blackout policy.

Enacted in 1975, the NFL's policy requires broadcasters to black out games if the local team does not sell out the stadium in any given week. The FCC's own rule prohibits cable and satellite TV providers from showing a sports event in a market in which the game is blacked out on local broadcast stations.

Pai said that it's the FCC's job to "serve the public interest, not the private interests of team owners." Many believe the NFL's policies have no place these days, and few believe it actually helps drive ticket sales. The league has fought change when it comes to the blackout rules and will continue to do so. But it sounds like they could lose a powerful ally.

"Right now, the FCC is officially on the side of blackouts. We should be on the side of sports fans," Pai said in his announcement. He said that he is going to ask the five-person panel that makes up the FCC to hold "an up-or-down vote ending the sports blackout rule." This wouldn't do away with the rule as we know it, but the biggest change would be seen on something like Sunday Ticket, which allows broadcast of every NFL game save for those locally blacked out. In theory, this rule change could allow those games to be available to viewers.

Below, we've got Pai's full announcement from the event in Buffalo: