Antitrust Law And The Antitrust Laws

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Antitrust law in the United States is a collection of federal and state government laws regulating the conduct and organization of business corporations with the intent to promote fair competition in an open-market economy for the benefit of the public. Congress passed the first antitrust statute, the Sherman Antitrust Act, in 1890 in response to the public outrage toward big business. In 1914, Congress passed two additional antitrust laws: the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Clayton Act. (The Antitrust Laws. Web.)

Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits the efforts of multiple firms to restrain trade by controlling prices and supply in a market (46 Case W. Res. 1033). In terms of a professional sports league, a
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J. 121).

In 1961, Congress passed the Sports Broadcasting Act which allowed major professional sports to pool the broadcast rights of its member clubs to negotiate television broadcast agreements that normally would have violated federal antitrust laws. (21 Jeffery S. Moorad Sports Law Journal 577) This antitrust exemption enabled the NFL to protect its primary revenue source of live attendance by negotiating with the networks as to when and where games would be televised.

Five years later, in 1966, Congress passed the Public Law 89-900 which had a major impact on how the NFL would be examined under federal law. The statue contained an antitrust provision that allowed for the merger of the National Football League (NFL) and American Football League (AFL) without the threat of an antitrust challenge under the Clayton Antitrust Act or Federal Trade Commissions Act. The act stated that: “such laws shall not apply to a joint agreement by which the member clubs of two or more professional football leagues, which are exempt from income tax under section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, combine their operations in expanded single league so exempt from income tax, if such agreement increases rather than decreases the number of professional football clubs so operating, and the provisions of which are directly relevant thereto.” 15 U.S.C. § 1291. The merger between the NFL and AFL represented a unique characteristic of the
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