Writing to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Monday, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ) urged  the FCC to adopt an order within 60 days that would eliminate the sports blackout rule, proclaiming that the agency “now. . . must act” as it “has collected the facts and has a rich public record upon which to base a decision.” First enacted in 1975, the sports blackout rule bars multichannel video program distributors (MVPDs) from carrying National Football League (NFL) games and other sporting events that are blacked out on broadcast television stations in markets where tickets to such games have not sold out. In a rulemaking notice (NPRM) issued last December, the FCC questioned the need for the blackout rule in the modern era during which the importance of gate receipts have diminished dramatically, “particularly in relation to television revenues.” Acknowledging that privately-negotiated blackout agreements between over-the-air broadcasters and sports teams or leagues would remain in place, the FCC further suggested that “sports leagues may not need the . . . blackout rules to prevent MVPDs from using [compulsory copyright licenses] to carry blacked out  games.” (Meanwhile,  in regard to such agreements, McCain has introduced legislation,  known as the Furthering Access and Networks for Sports (FANS) Act, which would remove the antitrust exemption for any sports league that declines to prohibit or limit blackouts in their contracts with broadcasters.) In their letter to Wheeler, Blumenthal and McCain charged that the blackout rule “unfairly harms consumers by insulating the NFL from market realities and punishing fans in cities with large stadiums and populations.” Voicing agreement with the FCC’s belief that the blackout rules “have become obsolete,” Blumenthal and McCain maintained, “the record clearly supports the FCC’s tentative conclusions in favor of eliminating this unnecessary rule.”  As such, the lawmakers asked Wheeler to “commit to bringing a final order to vote within the next 60 days.”