MLB Sued By Fans Group Over TV Rights

By JussiClone (Uploaded by Uusijani with permission from author.) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

A group of fans is upset about TV distribution of baseball games, so they've filed a federal lawsuit. It probably won't get very far.

Major League Baseball's arcane system of blacking out various game telecasts in various regions of the country for various reasons has been criticized by fans, broadcasters and writers like me for many years.

Now, a group of fans is attempting to change this mysterious system by filing a lawsuit:

A small group of baseball fans is suing Major League Baseball, its clubs and some television broadcast entities, claiming they collude to eliminate competition in the showing of games on the Internet and television.

The antitrust lawsuit filed on Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan seeks a court declaration that the defendants engage in antitrust behavior and appropriate remedies, including unspecified damages. The lawsuit said the defendants possess monopoly power over the market for video presentations of major league games and have used the power to exclude or limit competition.

I am not a lawyer, so I personally have no idea whether this suit has any merit or not. Craig Calcaterra, who also writes about baseball, is a lawyer, and he says it doesn't:

If I’m the judge that gets this case, my dismissal entry says "Monopoly power? Nonsense. Plaintiffs have every right to broadcast games themselves too. In the event they have a billion dollars to buy such rights."

Sounds like this particular suit won't get anywhere. That still leaves the issue of regional blackouts, which probably aren't going away any time soon, not as long as Bud Selig is commissioner, anyway.

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