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The Big Leagues Go to WashingtonCongress and Sports Antitrust, 1951-1989$
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David George Surdam

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039140

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039140.001.0001

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Television Blackout Hearings 1972–1977

Television Blackout Hearings 1972–1977

(p.186) 13 Television Blackout Hearings 1972–1977
The Big Leagues Go to Washington

David George Surdam

University of Illinois Press

This chapter focuses on the Congressional hearings of 1972–1977 that addressed the National Football League's (NFL) television blackout rules. It first considers the economic and legal aspects of the proposed antiblackout law before discussing the Senate hearings that resulted in a temporary experiment in lifting the blackouts under specified circumstances. It then examines the NFL's defense of blackouts, along with empirical evidence regarding lifting the blackouts and the lawmakers' concern that NFL owners might allow cable and pay television to telecast games after the blackout was lifted. It also assesses the responses of Major League Baseball (MLB), National Hockey League (NHL), and the National Basketball Association (NBA) to the proposed antiblackout legislation, as well as those of network television officials such as ABC Sports president Roone Arledge and CBS president John Schneider. The chapter concludes with an overview of various reports on the effects of the television blackout law and the impact of the antiblackout rule on NFL gate attendance, no-shows, and revenues.

Keywords:   television blackout rules, Congressional hearings, National Football League, antiblackout legislation, cable television, pay television, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, John Schneider

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