The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

He's getting great protection!

Did you ever wonder why NFL games are never on Fridays or Saturdays until late in the year? Or why the Dolphins/Titans contest last Saturday - moved to avoid a hurricane - was not broadcast nationally even to Direct TV subscribers? Or why the major sports are allowed to "black out" games that do not sell out in local markets?

The answer? It is against Federal Law! (Or, in the case of a "black out", it is permitted by Federal Law where it would otherwise be illegal.) From Title 15, Chapter 32 of the US Code:

Sec. 1293. - Intercollegiate and interscholastic football contest limitations

The first sentence of section 1291 (Note: Section 1291 is an anti-trust exemption bestowed on all sports. Read it here. Section 1293 is an anti-trust exemption exemption, which allows the government to forbid the NFL from broadcasting games when college or high school games are taking place.) of this title shall not apply to any joint agreement described in such section which permits the telecasting of all or a substantial part of any professional football game on any Friday after six o'clock postmeridian or on any Saturday during the period beginning on the second Friday in September and ending on the second Saturday in December in any year from any telecasting station located within seventy-five miles of the game site of any intercollegiate or interscholastic football contest scheduled to be played on such a date if -
(1)
such intercollegiate football contest is between institutions of higher learning both of which confer degrees upon students following completion of sufficient credit hours to equal a four-year course, or
(2)
in the case of an interscholastic football contest, such contest is between secondary schools, both of which are accredited or certified under the laws of the State or States in which they are situated and offer courses continuing through the twelfth grade of the standard school curriculum, or the equivalent, and
(3)
such intercollegiate or interscholastic football contest and such game site were announced through publication in a newspaper of general circulation prior to August 1 of such year as being regularly scheduled for such day and place

Aren't you glad that selfless government officials are looking out for your best interests? You can read the entire regulation here. Big hat tip to Brendan I. Koerner who wrote on this subject in The Slate.

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