Congressman addresses ownership and blackout rules
Congressman Brian Higgins stood up to play defense for Buffalo Bills fans this week. In remarks on the House Floor, he cited new ownership and blackout rules as threats that could take the team away from loyal, local fans.
On reports of outside interests potentially pulling the Bills out of Western New York, Higgins said, "The people of Buffalo have stood by our team, and the next owner of this franchise - the Buffalo Bills - must be one that will stand with this community for generations to come."
Below is the full text of Higgins' remarks:
"In my Western New York community, there is no shortage of pride for the National Football League Buffalo Bills. Taxpayers are currently investing millions into the existing stadium, and the community is engaged in discussions about future ownership and potential construction of a new stadium.
"Despite this, outside interests are making moves to pull the team out of Buffalo, and antiquated rules turn TV screens black on game day - both threaten to take the team away from its loyal fan base.
"Our legislation, the Furthering Access and Networks for Sports Act, eliminates the anti-trust exemption that gives NFL teams the ability to blackout home games that haven't sold out, and ensures that local fans will be able to watch their teams from home.
"The people of Buffalo have stood by our team and the next owner of this franchise - the Buffalo Bills - must be one that will stand with this community for generations to come."
Higgins also sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission urging final approval of a proposed rule calling for the repeal of sports blackouts. Higgins has been fighting the blackout rules since 2012.
Last December, the FCC announced plans to drop federal support for sports blackouts. Final approval of that policy is pending. The congressman would like to see the NFL voluntarily follow suit, but has also introduced the FANS Act to force an end to policies that allow the blackouts.