Comcast is joining Major League Baseball (MLB) to appeal an anti-trust ruling by a New York district court over broadcast of professional baseball games. The case involves claims by professional sports fans that professional sports leagues, including MLB and the National Hockey League (NHL) have colluded with cable television providers in an anti-competitive manner to blackout certain games, to force viewers to pay to subscribe to regional sports cable networks at high fees.
In her denial of several recent motions, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York judge Shira Scheindlin has repeatedly rejected MLB’s and Comcast’s arguments they fall under loopholes in federal antitrust laws, referencing a series of U.S. Supreme Court opinions from the 1920s that carved out an exemption for a league organizing professional baseball games.
Last month, Comcast, DirectTV and other providers notified Judge Scheindlin that the television entities involved in the anti-trust suit would join with MLB on the league’s motion for permission to file an interlocutory appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
MLB and Comcast are asking the appeals court to reverse Judge Scheindlin’s decision on the applicability of the so called “professional baseball exemption” to federal anti-trust laws. Defendants are arguing that, “TV defendants join in the MLB defendants’ motion, and should the antitrust exemption be found applicable (as we believe it should), TV defendants’ view is that this ends the claims against them.”
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