Sen. Robert P. Griffin (R-Mich.) has a bill in the works that permanently would ban television blackouts of sold-out professonal football, baseball, basketball and hockey games.
The proposal is expected to be of immediate concern to National Football League club owners, who will meet Monday in Palm Springs, Calif.
The bill would provide that regular season games be televised if sold out 48 hours beforehand. The policy also would apply to NFL playoff games.
For playoffs in the other sports the games would have to be sold out 24 hours beforehand.
Griffin's proposal would call for a permanent law. The NFL voluntarily has been adhering to the spirit of a three-year experimental blackout law which expired after the 1975 season.
That legislation provided that a game had to be sold out 72 hours beforehand for the television blackout to be lifted.
Griffin reportedly has received some indications that the NFL might not be as likely to follow its past policy in 1978. He said to have been keeping up with the subject despite an otherwise lapse of action by Congress.
The senator, who first introduced anti-blackout legislation in 1972, is the ranking Republican on the Senate communications committee.
In 1962, Congress granted exemptions from antitrust laws to professional team sports so they could negotiate on a pooled, or league-wide, basis the sale of broadcast rights. The leagues were permitted to black out telecasts of home games because representatives of the various sports argued the telecasts were seriously affecting ticket sales.
A decade later Griffin said, "The argument that certain TV blackouts are absolutely essential to the survival of the NFL has no substance."
The three-year experimental law was passed for the 1973 season and affected pro football most because it has far fewer games than the other sports and more sellouts.
Griffin was in favor of covering all athletic leagues, saying, "There no longer is justification for granting blanket immunity from antitrust laws to pro sports."