I have just heard the devestating news that Major League Baseball has worked out a deal to make MLB Extra Innings available exclusively on DirecTV.
This, while lining the coffers of MLB quite handsomely, is horrible news for those of us who are EI customers on digital cable.
I can understand the logic: MLB can offer a better package (at a higher price) on DirecTV, as virtually all MLB games would be able for broadcast. Unlike the cable EI arrangement, which limits Extra Innings to cable broadcasts only due to antiquated FCC rules.
Lately, there has been news of Congress threatening the NFL because their package, NFL Sunday Ticket, is exclusively on DirecTV and angry Congressmen (from Comcast’s backyard) is saying it’s an unfair monopoly; which is misinformed.
I would urge any NFL or MLB fan who has digital cable and would buy either package to write your Congress-person and beg for this very LOGICAL COMPROMISE:
Ask the National Football League and Major League Baseball to make their packages available via ANY satellite or cable provider IN EXCHANGE for a live-sports exemption from the FCC’s second rule of the First Report and Order by the Federal Communications Commission on CATV.
That rule "prohibits of importation of programs from a non-local station that duplicates programming on a local station if the duplication is shown either 15 days before or 15 days after its local airing."
The rule prevents games broadcast by a local affiliate of NBC, FOX, CBS, ABC, and the UPN/WB merged network from being carried on cable television in other market, simply because other markets have local affiliates that share the same programming.
Because of this rule, NFL Sunday Ticket MUST be on satellite (as CBS and FOX are local affiliates); and only CABLE BROADCASTS can be on Extra Innings over Digital Cable (and not local over-the-air affiliate broadcasts).
This is a sound and just rule when applied to basic cable regulation. But the rule is also EXTREMELY ANTIQUATED AND SHOULD NOT APPLY WHEN IT COMES TO LIVE SPORTING EVENTS.
Basically, because WPIX New York (a WB affiliate last year) and all the other WB affiliates both carry Dawson’s Creek and Felicity, MLB Extra Innings cannot carry New York Mets broadcasts from WPIX New York. (I realize that’s an outdated example, but I don’t watch that network and I’m a Keri Russell fan. Fill in any city and any network TV show).
Can the FCC explain how WPIX NY games on Extra Innings adversly affects the local WB affiliates around the country? No. It can’t. The SOLITARY PROGRAM of Mets baseball is not offered by any other WB affiliate. The airing of the broadcast on Extra Innings in no way infringes upon the local rights of other network affiliates.
When the FCC created this rule following the United States v. Southwestern Cable (a.k.a. the "San Diego Case"), they could not have possibly known the potential sports programming ramifications, as the First Report and Order by the Federal Communications Commission on CATV was issued in 1965.
Think about that. Major League baseball had 24 teams and we were five years away from the AFL-NFL Merger. Of the four teams that played in the NFL last Sunday, the Patriots were the Boston Patriots, the Colts were in Baltimore, and the New Orleans Saints did not yet exist.
No one in 1965 could have foreseen what sports broadcasting has evolved into 42 years later.
All I am asking for is the the FCC to revisit a ruling as it applies to sports and tweaked the rule to benefit the consumer; and merge it with anti-monoply concerns in a compromise that benefits every sports fan.
84.6 percent of Americans have access to cable television.
Only 10 percent of America has DirecTV.
This compromise would enable:
1. MLB and NFL to offer Sunday Ticket and Extra Innings on satellite AND cable; making their product available to every fan in America willing to pay.
2. MLB to offer an exanded version of those packages — at a higher price — which includes EVERY broadcast. Home & Visitor broadcasts in MLB for example.
Imagine a country where you could see any NFL or MLB broadcast you wanted to, provided you are willing to pay for the right. Isn’t the the very ideal of capitalism?