Sports broadcast antitrust case may proceed as class action

Reuters News
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Posted: May 14, 2015 11:03 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday said television viewers may pursue a class-action lawsuit accusing Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Comcast Corp, DirecTV and other broadcasters of illegally restricting their ability to watch their favorite sports teams play.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan said the viewers suffered from "a dearth of choice in the market for baseball and hockey broadcasting," and that it made sense for them to pursue their claims as a group.

The judge, however, also found that a damages model proposed by an expert for the plaintiffs was inadmissible, and that as a result damages could not be pursued on a classwide basis.

At issue were agreements that limit where certain games can be broadcast. Consumers have said this causes "anticompetitive blackouts" that force them to pay more.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York)