FanPost

MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding TV Blackout Policies (with link added)


From captainlatte on tumblr (opens in new window), this news of an antitrust suit filed against MLB on Wednesday in New York by a group of fans from California, Mississippi, Indiana and Philadelphia.

From the linked article (which is complete with coverage map and a link to the suit, which includes ROOT Sports Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Baseball, Inc. as defendants:

The plaintiffs in Garber v. MLB allege that the league has violated Sections One and Two of the Sherman Act by unfairly restricting its fans’ ability to watch out-of-market broadcasts in two primary ways.

And:

…Interestingly, the Garber suit does not name all 30 MLB teams as defendants, instead suing only the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, New York Yankees, Oakland A’s, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, and Seattle Mariners, along with the Office of the Commissioner, MLB Advanced Media, DirecTV, Comcast, and various RSNs

The items in the "Nature of the Action" of the lawsuit are pretty interesting, including this:

"11. In addition, the Defendants have colluded to sell the "out of market" packages only through the League. The League Defendants are then able to exploit their illegal monopoly by charging supra-competitive prices. As a result of this monopoly, moreover, the League is able to require purchasers of MLB.TV or MLB Extra Innings to buy all "out-of-market" games of all the League's teams even if the fan is only interested in a particular team or particular game... "

Sit down and read it all when you have the time; this one's not something you can simply scan quickly.

Pretty interesting, eh?

EDITED TO ADD: One of the links in the story leads to a description of the case at Sports Law Blog, (clicking this also opens a new page) which you might have missed just perusing the original linked article. It has a good overview, and also more links (including the MLB's specific blackout policies) and other commentary / opinion.

It will also be interesting to see if the Garber lawsuit finally motivates MLB to update its antiquated television blackout policies. The rules have been frequently criticized by baseball fans, and can lead to absurd outcomes such as fans in Iowa being unable to watch any game involving the Twins, Royals, White Sox, Brewers, Cubs, or Cardinals on either the MLB Extra Innings or MLB.tv packages, even though in many cases none of those teams' games are available from their local cable provider. MLB has reportedly been considering updating the rules for years, but has yet to act. Perhaps this threat to its cherished antitrust exemption, along with potential treble damages, will finally force the league to act.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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