James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Is Watching the Patriots a Basic Human Right?

So the NFL caved, and not only will the Patriots-Giants game be carried on the NFL Network, but will also be simulcast free on NBC and CBS. This in at least partial response to pressure from politicians such as Sens. Leahy and Spector, who threatened to revoke the NFL's anti-trust exemption.

The conflict seemed to be that the NFL network wanted to be offered as a basic cable channel, but many cable companies have refused to do so. Presumably, these channels would have accepted the NFL Network as a premium channel. But this means people unwilling to pay extra would still be unable to see the game. Wouldn't there be an outrage over that? Wouldn't the NFL take an even bigger public relations hit?

In any case, why do people feel they have a right to watch this game? What if it had been scheduled at what would have been its normal time: 1 pm Eastern, as aregional-coverage game? Would that have been acceptable, because it's free?

I agree that the NFL shouldn't have an antitrust exemption, but that's because there shouldn't be anti-trust law, period. Particularly not for the leisure and entertainment industries, where no one is being "gouged" or otherwise forced to pay high prices for anything.

This struggle is between the NFL and cable companies. Public pressure may swing to one end or the other, but the government should stay out of it.

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