Hawaii’s Daniel K. Inouye is among a group of prominent Democratic senators who are urging the Federal Communications Commission to end controversial television blackout policies for sports.
Inouye joins call for FCC to end TV blackout policies for sports
Unlimited access to premium stories for as low as $12.95 /mo.Get It Now
[ AD HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM THIS STORY ]
In Hawaii, for example, residents who buy premium cable packages often cannot view games of the San Francisco Giants because the state is territory claimed by as many as six teams, including the Giants, and their TV network rights holders.
Declaring Hawaii part of their "territory" allows the teams to say Hawaii cable outlets must either work out a deal with the clubs’ regional sports networks, buy DirecTV or face a blackout of non-ESPN national telecasts.
"Professional sports fans in Hawaii are at a significant disadvantage geographically and economically because unless their teams are on TV they have to expend significant time and resources to travel to watch them play," Inouye said in a statement. "The fans are the lifeblood of these sports franchises and they should be able to watch their favorite teams play regardless of what state they live in. I would urge the FCC to take another look at sports blackouts and to think of the fans who want nothing more than to cheer their team to victory while promoting the franchise and expanding its base of support."
Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) have all signed a letter to the FCC, whose commissioners are finalizing a rule on blackouts.
In the letter, the senators note "Major League Baseball enforces a byzantine set of broadcast restrictions that results in blackouts."
The letter said, "the most egregious examples occur in Hawaii and Alaska, where fans are thousands of miles away from their supposed home team yet find these games blacked out when they try to watch them via premium packages."