Pete Rozelle, pro football commissioner proposes to continue a policy to telecasting locally sold-out games for the next two seasons, but Congress is going ahead with hearings on whether to put the practice into law.
Rep. Lionel Van Deerlin (D-Calif.), chairman of the House subcommittee on communications, said yesterday through a spokesman that he appreciates Rozells's voluntary action but that it should not affect whether legislation is required.
A three-year experimental law against blackouts of games sold out 72 hours beforehand expired after the 1975 season and the National Football League agreed to continue the policy in 1976 and 1977.
When the NFL failed to volunteer the same policy at its recent meetings in Palm Springs, Calif., there were reports that club owners were pressuring Rozelle to seek more control over blackouts in exchange for continuing the practice.
Before and during the league's meetings, there were four bills introduced in Congress to ban blackouts.
Among the various provisions were shortening the sellout deadline from 72 hours to 48 hours before game time. Another would have required that a game be only 95 per cent sold out. ANother would reduce the blackout area from with 75 miles of the game to 30 miles.
In a letter to Rep. Van Deerlin, Rozelle asked that the Federal Communications Commission be requested to continue its annual reports on the impact of the blackout policy so the meaningful data will be available to legislators.
The first of two hearings will be conducted April 28 in Miami.