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date: 17 October 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines a little known, but vitally important, statutory antitrust exemption for the U.S. professional sports industry: the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 (SBA). Under the SBA, league-wide television agreements between one of the four major U.S. sports leagues and an over-the-air broadcast network are immune from challenge under federal antitrust law. As a result, the SBA has played a significant role in shaping the way in which sports are broadcast in the United States today. At the same time, because sports leagues value the protection afforded by the SBA, the threat of repealing the statute has also intermittently given Congress the leverage needed to challenge various league activities that were viewed as harmful to the public interest. Thus, the SBA continues to play an important role in helping to shape professional-sports-related public policy in the United States today.

Keywords: Sports Broadcasting Act, sports leagues, television broadcasting, antitrust law, Congress

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