National Consumers League

FANS Act promises to put brakes on cable bill increases

December 4, 2015

Contact: Ben Klein, National Consumers League, benk@nclnet.org, (202) 835-3323

Washington, DC – In testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today, the National Consumers League is calling on legislators to adopt pro-consumer legislation that could slow the rising cost of cable and satellite television bills. The FANS Act, sponsored by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), would condition professional sports leagues’ antitrust exemptions on agreements to reduce programming blackouts and increase opportunities for fans to access sports over the Internet.

“Fans and non-fans alike are right to be outraged that rising sports programming costs are driving their cable and satellite bills through the roof,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “As the leagues enjoy huge profits, taxpayers are right to question what they receive in return the tax breaks, antitrust exemptions and public subsidies lavished on professional sports teams.”

By placing conditions on sports leagues’ antitrust exemptions, the FANS Act would incentivize sports leagues to ensure that games remain on the air when broadcasters and cable and satellite companies cannot come to agreement on retransmission costs. In addition, the bill would encourage leagues to make games available online in areas where consumers are unable to acquire programming due to teams’ overlapping broadcast territories. Finally, the bill would help put an end to the decades-long policy of blacking out games on local television when they don’t sell out, a goal that has already been endorsed by a unanimous vote at the Federal Communications Commission.

“Consumers are the ultimate supporters of professional sports teams,” said Greenberg. “The FANS Act is an important step in recouping some of the public benefits that the leagues have long enjoyed at taxpayers’ expense.” 

Read Greenberg's testimony here.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.