Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts Should Move Up To CBS' NFL No. 2 Team
While the leagues' threat is to be taken seriously, there are legal reasons to doubt that the NFL would actually carry through on it. The NFL is a beneficiary of the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, which exempts the four major leagues from violating Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act in their national television contracts. The exemption, however, only extends to "sponsored broadcasting" of games, an expression interpreted to mean free over-the-air TV. By moving all of its games to cable, the NFL would lose the exemption's protection and open itself up to years of antitrust litigation. Baseball is in a different position because of its historical exemption from antitrust law, but that exemption has been limited over the years. The nine Supreme Court justices will hear oral arguments this spring and issue an opinion later in the year.