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The Big Leagues Go to WashingtonCongress and Sports Antitrust, 1951-1989$
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David George Surdam

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039140

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039140.001.0001

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The Future Arrives Via Cable Television 1989

The Future Arrives Via Cable Television 1989

(p.204) 14 The Future Arrives Via Cable Television 1989
The Big Leagues Go to Washington

David George Surdam

University of Illinois Press

This chapter focuses on the Congressional hearings of 1989 that addressed the issue of cable television's sports telecasts. For many years, Congress aided and abetted over-the-air television's dominance via antisiphoning regulations that restricted cable and pay-television access to many sporting events that were being telecast over-the-air for free. The intent of the regulations was to prevent programs from switching from free over-the-air to pay-television delivery. Home Box Office (HBO) filed suit over the antisiphoning rules and eventually won in court, thereby ending the antisiphoning regulation. The courts found that there was no evidence to suggest that cable television companies were going to usurp free television. With these developments, cable television was ready to compete with the networks and independent television stations. This chapter examines the 1989 hearings that revolved primarily around the New York Yankees' deal with the Madison Square Garden Network to show all the team's games on the cable channel. It also discusses the legal and economic aspects of whether cable telecasts of sporting events violated antitrust law.

Keywords:   cable television, Congressional hearings, telecasts, Home Box Office, antisiphoning rules, free television, New York Yankees, Madison Square Garden Network, antitrust law, sports

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