Blackouts of sports events and TV shows

Nothing’s more frustrating when you look forward to a TV show or sporting event than finding out that it isn’t available in your viewing area. But sometimes your cable company or other distributor is required to block delivery of the game, event or show. It’s called a blackout, and it’s done for reasons the CRTC doesn’t control.

Sports blackouts

Broadcasters must buy the rights to televise sporting events in the areas they serve. If they haven’t bought the rights to a game or event, they must black it out. Sports teams and leagues operate under something called regional rights, where one team owns a territory and doesn’t let other teams’ games broadcast in their area.

The CRTC doesn't regulate the contracts between broadcasters and event organizers, and isn't involved in the decision whether to buy rights to broadcast events.

If events that you want to watch are blacked out in your area, we suggest you:

  • Contact the station or streaming service to voice your concerns
  • Contact the sports organization providing the event—for example, the NHL—and let them know you want to watch the event in your area

It is in the interest of both your provider and the sports organization to keep you happy.

Program blackouts

Other programs can be blacked out for the same reason as sports blackouts. They can also be blacked out to comply with court orders or the Canada Elections Act. These types of blackouts are rare, but they do happen.

To learn why a program is blacked out in your area, contact your television service provider.

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