A group of US hockey fans seeking greater access to NHL broadcasts is suing the NHL. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)
U.S. sports fans can pursue antitrust case over monopolization of programs. – Reuters
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners are crying a blue river that they locked out some 730 players and shut down the hockey league “in the interests of fans and growing the game.” According to a Reuters report (see below), a U.S. federal court judge, however, has just ruled that a lawsuit can proceed that asserts that the NHL and other U.S. sports oligolies are conspiring against fans. By restricting more widely available game telecasts, the league “is able to charge monopoly pricing and limit the choices available to consumers.”
Along with the NHL, the defendants in the case over broadcasting of games include Major League Baseball, several teams in both sports, cable TV company Comcast Corp, satellite TV provider DirecTV, Madison Square Garden Co and some regional sports networks.
“The judge did dismiss claims that Comcast, DirecTV and the sports networks conspired to monopolize markets, while allowing similar claims against Major League Baseball and the NHL to proceed.”
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), which owns the Maple Leafs and Maple Leaf TV along with franchises in Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer and the American Hockey League, is listed as a defendant, as are the NHL’s other 29 franchises. MLSE is co-owned by the two media monopolies Bell Canada and Rogers Communications with Larry Tannebaum a minority owner.
The monopoly media is typically portraying the NHL lockout as one of “billionaires vs millionaires.” This diversion aims to divert attention of fans from the culpability and criminal practices of private capital in the sphere of sports. The U.S. lawsuit, at the time of writing, has not been reported in Canada. The lawsuit provides additional evidence that the central issue in the NHL’s self-serving and brutal lockout of the professional athletes is the defence of monopoly right and the maximization of profit. – Tony Seed Continue reading