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Fargo FOX station says it will broadcast Vikings playoff game regardless of blackout in Twin Cities

FARGO - Call it Christmas come late for area Vikings fans.

Regardless if National Football League and Minnesota Vikings officials decide to "blackout" Sunday's playoff game on Twin Cities television, fans here will see the first-round playoff contest against the Philadelphia Eagles, said Jim Shaw, news director at KVRR-TV, the Fargo-Moorhead FOX TV affiliate.

"It's our expectation that if there was (a blackout), it would not affect us," Shaw said today. "We fully expect to carry the game whether they sell enough tickets or not, whether they decide to black it out or not."

NFL teams can decide not to show - or "blackout" - a home game on their local television stations if they don't sell out the tickets available at the stadium. Blackouts are used to encourage ticket sales.

As of Friday, the Vikings still had 8,000 tickets available for the 3:30 p.m. Sunday game at the Metrodome and had until 3:30 p.m. Friday to sell them, otherwise the game wouldn't be televised in the Twin Cities market.

The NFL already had granted the team one deadline extension to sell the tickets, but by 2 p.m. to-day it wasn't certain the team would receive a second extension such as was granted to the Arizona Cardinals, an-other NFL team with a first-round playoff game that was having a difficult time selling out its tickets.

One media report Thursday suggested that if the NFL and Vikings did invoke a media blackout, it could involve secondary markets in the region.

But KVRR's Shaw said this afternoon that he was as certain as they could be that the Fargo-Moorhead affiliate would be carrying the game Sunday.

Vikings officials did not immediately return calls to verify whether the game would be broadcast here. One media relations official said there was no one at Vikings headquarters available Friday afternoon to answer that question.

A member of the sports reporting team at KMSP Channel 9, the Twin Cities FOX affiliate, said he couldn't answer the question because that was a decision to be made by the NFL and the Vikings.