For most of the league a TV blackout is a rarity. However, for the Oakland Raiders the opposite is true. The rule remains pointless for the entire league. And it may be changing. According to the National Football Post, late last week the group Sportsfan.org asked the FCC to eliminate blacking out sports broadcasts.
"Take-downs of sports programming during retransmission consent disputes needlessly punish sports fans," the filing said. "The Commission can and should do something. It has ample authority to take a number of actions. American sports fans would cheer for a referee that puts them back in the game."
I put no stock into this changing the NFL's mind or ability to blackout games that aren't sold out. As we are seeing, NFL owners aren't going to give up without a serious court battle. However, they are apparently considering changing the rule anyway.
According to Pro Football Talk last week the owners discussed the possibility of allowing teams to cover up seats as a way to avoid blackouts. The owners may vote on this measure at their next meeting on June 21st.
What is not clear is if teams will be able to uncover those seats if ticket demand rises. It seems like a no-brainer, but this is the convulted world of NFL policy dealing with an arcane rule. Five years ago the league allowed the Jaguars to cover seats, but they do not allow them to uncover those seats.
I suppose that serves as motivation for fans to buy season tickets, but the negatives far outweigh the positives. In a time when the public is growing increasingly frustrated with the owners it would be a good time for them to give in on the blackout rules to show that they are actually willing to consider the fan.