US: Broadcasting dispute places MLB, NHL under antitrust fire

Defendants in a lawsuit seeking fewer restrictions on sports broadcasting failed to have the case tossed on Friday after US District Judge Shira Scheindlin decided to proceed with the dispute surrounding issues on how games are televised.

Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Comcast and DirecTV are all named as defendants in the lawsuit filed by television viewers who argue that the companies involved cause “anticompetitive blackouts” in sports programming due to limits on where certain games can be broadcast.

According to reports, regional sports networks have exclusive rights to games in their areas, and those games cannot be broadcast elsewhere. But the rules, plaintiffs argue, allow sports leagues to charge unfair prices to watch games outside of designated markets.

Judge Scheindlin’s ruling included a dismissal of MLB’s argument that it was protected under antitrust exemption, an exemption that has become increasingly under fire for various reasons. The US Supreme Court rules in 1922 that that antitrust exemption does not apply to broadcasting rights.

Friday’s ruling moves the case closer to a trial, say reports.

Full content: Reuters

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