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Senator who criticized blackout policy applauds NFL’s decision

Ravens Bengals Football

The Cincinnati Bengals run onto the field at sold out Paul Brown Stadium at the start of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, in Cincinnati. Baltimore won 24-16. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)


Late last year, as the Cincinnati Bengals were blacked out on local television for the sixth time of the season, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio called the blackout policy a failure and said the NFL needs to scrap it. So Brown liked what he heard this week.

The news that the NFL plans to relax the blackout policy to allow teams to put their games on local television as long as 85 percent of the tickets are sold was praised by Brown, who says he now believes blackouts will no longer be an issue for either of the teams in his home state.

Brown said in a statement to The Hill that the decision ensured “that all Bengals fans can root for the home team — not just those who can afford tickets.”

It’s still possible, however, that some Bengals home games could be blacked out: Bengals owner Mike Brown could choose not to take advantage of the NFL’s loosening of the rules and require all of the tickets at Paul Brown Stadium to be sold before he’ll lift the blackout. It’s also possible that even if Mike Brown goes along with the new rule, the Bengals might not even sell 85 percent of their tickets for some games.

So while those who oppose the blackout policy -- senators and common fans alike -- can celebrate this week’s news, the blackout policy isn’t dead yet. It’s still likely that some NFL games will be blacked out on local television this season.