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MLB's TV blackout policy in lawsuit's crosshairs

By December 6, 2012

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Baseball has plenty of rules when it comes to its television arrangements. One of them is being attacked by a lawsuit that's been allowed to proceed in federal court. That could change the game lineup on your TV, and for the better.

Because of MLB's blackout policy, you're already limited as to which games are on in your market. You can't watch the ESPN broadcast of a "local" team because a regional carrier has those rights, for example. And the blackout is in place even if the area can't get that regional carrier that's carrying the game. And in some places, the rights border on ridiculous. In Iowa, for example, games of the Cubs, White Sox, Brewers, Twins, Cardinals and Royals are subject to the rule, and not all of those teams are actually on local TV. For some reason, parts of North Carolina are considered in Cincinnati Reds territory, even though they can't get Fox Sports Ohio, which owns the regional rights, for example.

But there's hope for those who want to change the policy. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the media structure is anti-competitive, allowing a class-action lawsuit brought by a fans' group to proceed. They argue that MLB is in violation of antitrust law. The NHL is also a party in the suit, as are several regional sports networks, along with Comcast and DirecTV.

As in many class-action suits, a settlement could be the end game here -- as Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan wrote. MLB won't want their books examined so closely.

And perhaps, if you live in Charlotte, you could watch a Washington Nationals game sometime.


December 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm
(1) Steve Brooks says:

I pay for the NFL Ticket on Direct and I live 177 miles from where the Chargers play in San Diego and their games are Blacked Out at my home when they dont sell out ( like last week) That is Riduculous!

December 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm
(2) Fred luckfeld says:

Try this I live in hawaii and all giants a’s and Seattle blacked out

January 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm
(3) Carol R says:

Not only for BB, EVERY channel/program in any area of the country need to have at least 2 sources displaying every one of them, have channel, such as NASA TV, PBS, local cable stations *WITH free access for programming, in the spirit of the FCC requirements they get for FREE anyhow, passed on FOR FREE.to the constituents.

We should be able to record &/or block ANY programming a swell, which in many cases required either a box having a chip, that in our area are VERY old huge, yet can still do the job, but ANY boxes, etc. required to access channels you are paying for already MUST be free

VoIP, offered by most high speed ISPs now, need to follow the same laws as any telephone provider, in ALL aspects AND MUST have disabled services!

April 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm
(4) Dale Latimer says:

They could pass 100, nay, 1,000 laws, and they still won’t make Comcast put CSN/TCN Philadelphia on a satellite.

April 14, 2013 at 12:20 am
(5) orca17 says:

I live in Las Vegas. we are 250 miles from the nearest MLB ballpark, yet six teams have claimed this as a home market. Two of their networks are unavailable in our market at all. The blackouts have even included replays of spring training games on MLB Network.

If I were to devise a plan to deliberately kill interest in baseball, it would look much like the MLB Extra Innings blackout plan. the way I see it, if I pay for a premium package I should be able to see any game that is televised, period.

April 17, 2013 at 10:55 pm
(6) chris says:

how do we join in any and all lawsuits against mlb & comcast phila.comcast has a monopoly here,we are supposed to protected
from that.its time to remove mlb’s exemption!mlb.tv is a pure rip-off
if you like a local team it’s WORTHLESS! not one game will play on

April 23, 2013 at 10:13 pm
(7) David says:

i live in hawaii and that’s almost 2,500 miles away from los angeles. i’m blacked out of dodger gmaes as well as any west coast game. this blackout policy is there to keep fans at the ballparks and create revenue for the team. i understand that but how am i going to fly 6hrs to los angeles, take a 2hr cab ride to dodgers stadium and watch a baseball game. this is outrageous.

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