Florida Senate Bill Aims to End NFL Blackouts

Maybe its the fact that all three Florida teams suck this year. Maybe its the fact that financially strapped Floridians don't want to shell out for tickets. Whatever the case, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins have all had to deal with the threat or reality of blackouts this season. Now, state Sen. Mike Fasano has introduced a bill that would make the NFL's blackout policy illegal in Florida.

For years the NFL has enforced a strict blackout policy. If games are not sold out with in 72 hours before kickoff, the NFL forbids the game to be shown on television in the local market.

Fasano, R-New Port Richey, has now filed a bill that would virtually end the practice in Florida if passed. SB 836 would excuse any team that plays in a stadium that receives tax payers funds (which, in the NFL's Florida teams' case, includes all of them) from blackout rules.

If the game is blacked out anyway, the home county of the stadium would be able to fine the team $125,000. The county would then use the money to buy tickets to games for foster children and their families, non-profit youth organizations and servicemen on leave.

Though, the NFL's blackout policy is protected on the federal level by the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961. If the the bill passed it would almost certainly set up a legal fight between the NFL and the state of Florida.

Though, the timing of the bill is apt. The Buccaneers have experienced several blackouts this season.

The Fins and Jags have come close to blackouts, by the franchises have teamed up with corporate sponsors at the last minute to buy up all remaining tickets. The Jags last experienced a blackout in 2009. The Fins have not had a blackout since 1999.

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Kyle Munzenrieder