raiders.jpgTo crassly bastardize Gil Scott-Heron, but, Sunday’s Oakland Raiders game against the Denver Broncos will not be televised. At least, not locally.

Under the NFL’s “blackout policy,” games must be sold out by 72 hours before kick off. If not, they’re blocked from all regional programming within a 75 mile radius — this includes cable television, NFL Sunday Ticket, and even nationally syndicated Sunday Night Football.

The policy has been in effect since 1973 as a way to boost ticket sales, the argument being that if people are given the option to watch on television they will forgo the stadium.

Last week, thanks to a 24 hour extension, the Raiders were able to sell out their opener against the Chargers. The Raiders have had two games blacked out each season since taking over ticketing sales from Alameda County in 2006.

I imagine that television broadcasting is not the only factor affecting ticket sales. I would argue that rising ticket prices in the wake of a recession might have a certain impact. In 2005 the NFL lifted its blackout ban in New Orleans after Katrina. We’ve just experienced an economic hurricane, and one would imagine the NFL would consider a similar policy. Tickets average $75 a game these days, and that’s just not an item that most struggling families’ budgets can handle.

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  • LibertyHiller

    You know, there are these devices called “radios” that aren’t affected by the blackout.

    A little bit of history here for the younguns… before 1973, the blackout policy was even more restrictive: the league wouldn’t allow any games, including out-of-market ones, to be telecast during a home game, sellout or no. That practice went into effect in the early 1950s, when the then-LA Rams had trouble filling the Coliseum, after a brief run of sold-out games following the team’s move from Cleveland. It also applied to playoff and championship games; the first seven Super Bowls were blacked-out in the host city, and the Giants-Colts game of 1958 that put pro football on the map was not broadcast in the New York area.

    The current policy was set by an act of Congress; it seems that Congresscritters and senators became tired of not being able to watch the Redskins, or any other game, when the ‘Skins played at home.