FCC Tweets Baseball Updates To Blacked Out Cablevision Customers

While some lawmakers are calling for the FCC to intervene in the Cablevision/Fox pissing match over carriage fees, the FCC made some attempt last night to keep blacked-out Phillies fans informed.

The agency used its Twitter account to update people on the score and pitching changes during Game 3 of the NLCS, which saw the evil San Francisco Giants shut out the heroic Phillies of Philadelphia.

We don’t know if these updates are in violation of that whole “not transmitting accounts of the game” boilerplate disclaimer you hear near the end of every game.

Meanwhile, the American Television Alliance, a coalition that includes Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Dish Network and Charter among its members, is less than impressed with the FCC’s Twitter solution to the blackout:

Instead of using its authority to protect Cablevision’s customers from the News Corp blackout, the FCC tweeted updates from the Phillies-Giants playoff game last night to fill in ‘the baseball void for those without Fox-Cablevision.’ The only solutions the FCC has offered to this problem so far have been suggesting consumers turn back the clock and install rabbit ears, or that they switch TV providers despite offering no guarantee that blackouts won’t happen to another provider or in any other part of the country in the near future. And now this? Twitter updates of baseball games? The FCC needs to step up to the plate and create a real solution by reforming retransmission consent rules immediately.

No word yet on whether or not the FCC will once again take to its Twitter account when the Phillies and Giants go at it again tonight.

Of course, anyone with access to Twitter probably also has access to any number of sports and news sites with better updates…


Edit Your Comment

  1. obits3 says:

    “We don’t know if these updates are in violation of that whole “not transmitting accounts of the game” boilerplate disclaimer you hear near the end of every game.”

    FCC: Damn the law, we wanted to see the game.

    • longdvsn says:

      unfortunately, fans had many better options to get game updates…yahoo sports, CBS Sportsline, ESPN online, etc….where you’d even get updates on the pitch count regularly.

      So…FCC: hilarious way to get around these annoying companies, but not entirely necessary.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      Are you saying Private Businesses are INVITING the Government to become involved? Pot meet kettle.
      When it is consumers, the Government is stepping out of bounds, but when Biz asks, It’s OK?

      OH REALLY?

  2. Yankees368 says:

    This is just sad. The FCC needs to stand up and do something already. This is a cruel joke to the blacked out fans.

  3. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Because if I’m a baseball fan blacked out of my market, the FCC is my first choice… good effort, but kind of futile.

  4. FilthyHarry says:

    Could conceivably be as, if not more exciting than actually watching baseball.

  5. teke367 says:

    Well, if this was an actual attempt by the FCC to resolve the issue, it was pretty pathetic. More likely, just seems like a passive aggressive attempt to shame the companies into working things out.

    Screw the game though, even when I have the channel available, I usually “watch” on my phone by updating the scores. Fox made me miss Running Wilde last night. And by the look of things, it might have been the last time it airs.

  6. Billy says:

    The actual disclaimer is, “Any rebroadcast, reproduction, or other use of the pictures and accounts of this game without the express written consent of Major League Baseball is prohibited.”

    Telling someone else about the facts of a game is not in violation of anything. See also The National Basketball Association v. Motorola, Inc.

    When I Google “not transmitting accounts of the game”, I get a link to this article.

    • Chris Morran says:

      Yes, we know… the statement in the post was not a serious inquiry into the legality of the FCC’s tweets. Sorry for any confusion.

      • Billy says:

        C’mon. You guys repeatedly get this wrong.

        Besides, if that were the case, why did you print “We don’t know if these updates are in violation of that whole “not transmitting accounts of the game” boilerplate disclaimer you hear near the end of every game.”

        Moreover, there seems to be some confusion in the comments.

  7. FilthyHarry says:

    I hope the FCC had express written permission from MLB to describe the game.

  8. Ben Popken says:

    Personally, I find this hilarious.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Especially as someone who doesn’t give a damn about sports, I agree!

      It’s akin to two siblings fighting over who gets to use the car tonight, demanding Daddy make a decision, and Dad suggesting they all play board games instead. Cue laugh track.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Cut the baby in half and give each woman half. There…problem solved.

        Now STFU…the game’s on. And fetch me a beer.

  9. goodpete says:

    This whole thing seems to be all kinds of stupid… Let’s look at some of the serious issues the FCC is ignoring while they’re busy updating their Twitter status:

    Net Neutrality – Fox blocked all CableVision (ISP) subscribers from Fox content on Hulu. Does this mean that if Comcast buys NBC, they can block me from NBC content on the web if AT&T (my ISP and TV provider) doesn’t fork out extra cash?

    Fair Use – As Chris noted, there is a disclaimer on these baseball games saying you can’t retransmit “accounts, descriptions, etc” of games without explicit permission from MLB. Which I’m sure the FCC lacked. But even if they didn’t, shouldn’t this be fair use? These disclaimers are misleading about people’s rights and the FCC should look into them.

    Cable Monopolies – Often, cable companies have state-sanctioned monopolies on given areas. Many CableVision subscribers don’t have the option of moving to another cable company if CableVision cannot offer the service that the customers demand.

    Obviously, these are complex topics and I haven’t done them justice here. But maybe the FCC should be looking into them rather than trying to fill the gap 140 characters at a time.

    (In the interest of full disclosure, I work for AT&T, but I’m a programmer, not a policymaker or spokesperson. I don’t speak for them. But they do send me a paycheck every once in a while).

  10. Grabraham says:

    Technically they would be free and clear of the whole “not transmitting accounts of the game” boilerplate disclaimer you hear near the end of every game. if the person tweeting is at the game since those admonishments apply to the broadcast not the event.

  11. Tim says:

    Come on. The FCC doesn’t seriously think that this is a solution to the problem. If anything, I think it was a joke, an attempt to shame the parties into negotiating. It’s a few tweets; they didn’t take valuable time out of their day when they could have actually been doing something.

    Take a chill pill, people, and if you find it funny, have a giggle. I know I did.

  12. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    As long as you all keep paying to watch TV, you’ll see more and more of it. How long will it be before the Superbowl and World series are pay-per-view? And you’ll pay for it, won’t you?

    Put up an antenna, people, and give pay tv the boot!

  13. tedyc03 says:

    I really think this is funny. I think some punk at the FCC said ‘screw Fox we’re helping out the common man’ and did something.

  14. Aaron Poehler says:

    I really don’t see this as a remotely appropriate thing for a government agency to do. Perhaps without Howard Stern to scapegoat for the world’s problems they don’t have enough to occupy them over there–another sign it’s surely time to eliminate this pointless waste of taxpayer money.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      It was the last FCC (Kevin Martin’s Chairmanship) that was obsessed with the dirty, dirty, evil obscenity.

  15. ElizabethD says:

    Are you sure this isn’t actually an SNL skit?

  16. alstein says:

    If the FCC or DOJ really wanted to do something, They could say, “Ok, people in those markets, pirate- we won’t come after you.”

    • huadpe says:

      Piracy is usually resolved in civil court. That is, FOX or MLB would sue the pirate directly, without intervention from FCC or DOJ. In fact much piracy (not all) is not subject to any criminal penalty, and can only be resolved by civil suit. Patent infringement, for example, is only a tort, not a crime.

  17. Mackinstyle1 says:

    Is it just me or is this basically insulting? A tweet? There are a thousand better online options, all of which don’t come close to actually watching the game. This is the FCC basically tweeting, “we’re fucking useless when it comes to protecting the customer.”

    • Mackinstyle1 says:

      I’m sorry about the language (I wish I could edit). I’m just very angry about what happened.

  18. Bill610 says:

    Your tax dollars at work. And I’ll bet that the FCC found a way to cost at least a million dollars of that tax money just to put out those tweets.

  19. menty666 says:

    I’m not an expert, but if I were to hazard a guess, the FCC may not have the authority to do anything in this case. They control regulations regarding what could and couldn’t be shown in regards to nudity, violence, language, etc, but I don’t believe they can actually do anything in regards to one company deciding to withhold content or the rates they set between each other.

    Having said that, however, I do have to wonder why there isn’t a requirement that the cable companies have to carry local channels as a safety concern. ESPN isn’t life or death. Information regarding what to do in the aftermath of an earthquake is.

  20. AllanG54 says:

    I guess those yokels in Philly don’t have radios or they have cheesesteak stuck in their ears.