Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961

Sports Act

Established in 1961, the Sports Broadcasting Act allows professional football, basketball, hockey, and basketball to pool and sell their rights in sponsored telecasts of games. This act allows the pooling of these television rights to be exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act. This enables teams to put their separate rights together in a single package so the league can sell that package to a single television network such as FOX or ABC. This is designed to protect home ticket sales and allow teams to share the revenues. It also has been interpreted to include what are called “blackout rules” which protect the home team from competing games broadcast into its home territory on days when it is playing at home. The focus on “sponsored telecasts” has been interpreted to ensure free local and national broadcasts of games. However, paid broadcasts on cable and league agreements with cable broadcasters are not covered by the antitrust exemption. (

Today's Broadcasting

In the United States, national and local media both serve major roles in sports broadcasting. Depending on the league and event, telecasts are often shown on network televison (traditionally on weekends and during major events — either national through a Television networks, or in some cases, regionally syndicated by an operation such as Raycomb Sports or a team), and nationally available cable channels (such as ESPN or Fox Sports 1). In some leagues (such as the NHL, and the NBA), events are also primarily shown by regional sports networks groups (such as Fox sports network), networks which air telecasts for teams of local interest, which are usually only carried within the relevant market. Additionally, cable channels also exist that are dedicated to specific types of sports, certain college sports conferences, or a specific league. Pay-per-view broadcasts are typically restricted to combat sports such as boxing, mixed martial arts or professional wrestling. (