The Morning Roar for Thursday, August 14th…and it will surprise you.
FCC Commissioner Calls For End to NFL TV Blackouts; Wants Antitrust Exemption Repealed
Did you hear that? Yes, that was the sound of my jaw dropping after reading that an FCC Commissioner, Ajit Pai, called for the FCC to end its support of the NFL’s ridiculous exemption to antitrust laws that allow it to blackout games in local markets that haven’t sold out. That’s a stance that has been a long time coming, as no FCC member has stood against it since it was enacted in 1975.
“Right now, the FCC is officially on the side of blackouts. We should be on the side of sports fans,” Pai said during a news conference in Buffalo on Tuesday. “The FCC shouldn’t get involved in handing out special favors or picking winners and losers. And in my view, there is no reason for the FCC to be involved in the sports blackout business.”
Now, I’m not coming out to support anti-trust law, mind you, but as Pai points out, if these laws are going to exist, the government shouldn’t be strong-arming one organization ahead of any others.
Pai wants to bring this to a vote among the five FCC Commissioners and with a simple majority, the NFL’s exemption would be repealed. Naturally, the NFL is strongly against this.
Two weeks ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell questioned whether a lifting of the policy on cable and satellite providers would potentially lead to fewer games broadcast for free on over-the-air networks.
“We are 99 percent sold out, so it has very little impact on our business,” Goodell said. “But it could have an impact on the overall business model for free television. We think that’s devastating to our consumers and consumers in general.”
“They’ve obviously urged us to retain the rule. But in my own view, their arguments don’t persuade me,” he said. “I certainly hope the business model doesn’t change. And I’m confident it would actually thrive and bring more fans and broaden the base in terms of television viewing audience.”
Pai noted that repealing the FCC’s blackout policy wouldn’t prevent the NFL or its teams from privately negotiating its own rules with cable and satellite companies
I honestly don’t see how this could possibly be damaging in any way to consumers. The only one here that is currently making out is the NFL, and as Pai points out, they are free to negotiate as they see fit with broadcasting entities. They just won’t enjoy the government’s special privileges and mandates over broadcasters any longer.
The NFL blackout exemption exists for one reason, and that is to force consumers into buying tickets. The free market should be at work here, with ticket prices meeting demand or smaller stadiums being built, etc. to assure attendance. Or, as Pai mentioned, through private agreements with cable and satellite companies. As it is now, it’s blackmail via the airwaves (or fiber optics, if you will.)
The NFL will still enjoy all the other perks of being one of the biggest beneficiaries of crony capitalism that has ever existed, however. The league already benefits from a cozy relationship with state and federal governments in many other respects. The IRS considers it a nonprofit organization, despite the NFL being one of the most profitable sports in history. This nonprofit status means it pays no taxes. And of course on top of that you have the rampant raiding of public coffers to fund stadiums that never actually benefit the community either in economic stimulus to the surrounding areas, nor in job creation. Studies show that stadiums using public funds virtually always result in a loss.
Inventor of the Fingerprint ID “Intelligun” Tells Holder He’d “Burn It Down” Rather Than Have it Mandated
Sci-Fi films have long adored the adoption of a handgun that only operates for its owner (the original Judge Dredd in particular stands out…a guilty pleasure of mine). That technology now exists in the form of the “Intelligun,” manufactured by Kodiak Arms, which uses fingerprint ID to allow an owner, or other approved parties, to fire the weapon – and no one else.
This technology piqued the interest of Attorney General Eric Holder, who shares President Obama’s lust to limit the freedom to bear arms in any way possible. Fortunately for us, Kodiak’s CEO, W.P. Gentry, is a man of principle and liberty. His comments, from the IJR:
I stopped him right there. I looked right across the table at Eric Holder — yeah, the attorney general of the United States — and told him, ‘If you try to mandate my smart-gun technology, I’ll burn it down.
The Intelligun is designed to save lives, not restrict freedom.
Gotta’ love that.
The Economist Argues For Legalized Prostitution
Despite its often left-leaning bias, The Economist has remained one of my more favored reads, and my patronage has paid off with a recent article calling for the legalization of prostitution. While libertarians know that the private acts of individuals that don’t violate the rights or freedoms of others should never fall under the purview of government, it’s wonderful to see a well respected, mainstream publication like this take on an issue that gets the moralists in a tizzy. The author addresses many of the arguments against legalized prostitution, and also highlights the ease and safety which the profession is afforded in the internet age. Some excerpts:
This newspaper has never found it plausible that all prostitutes are victims. That fiction is becoming harder to sustain as much of the buying and selling of sex moves online. Personal websites mean prostitutes can market themselves and build their brands. Review sites bring trustworthy customer feedback to the commercial-sex trade for the first time. The shift makes it look more and more like a normal service industry.
Sex arranged online and sold from an apartment or hotel room is less bothersome for third parties than are brothels or red-light districts. Above all, the web will do more to make prostitution safer than any law has ever done. Pimps are less likely to be abusive if prostitutes have an alternative route to market. Specialist sites will enable buyers and sellers to assess risks more accurately. Apps and sites are springing up that will let them confirm each other’s identities and swap verified results from sexual-health tests. Schemes such as Britain’s Ugly Mugs allow prostitutes to circulate online details of clients to avoid.
Governments should seize the moment to rethink their policies. Prohibition, whether partial or total, has been a predictable dud. It has singularly failed to stamp out the sex trade. Although prostitution is illegal everywhere in America except Nevada, old figures put its value at $14 billion annually nationwide; surely an underestimate.
Prostitution is moving online whether governments like it or not. If they try to get in the way of the shift they will do harm. Indeed, the unrealistic goal of ending the sex trade distracts the authorities from the genuine horrors of modern-day slavery (which many activists conflate with illegal immigration for the aim of selling sex) and child prostitution (better described as money changing hands to facilitate the rape of a child). Governments should focus on deterring and punishing such crimes—and leave consenting adults who wish to buy and sell sex to do so safely and privately online.
There would still be too much moral outrage among the religious right, left, and center currently to allow a legalized sex trade in the U.S., but at least the thought is starting to gain traction.
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