Thursday, January 14, 2016
This is not some new area into which MLB is moving. Indeed, MLB and the other sports leagues have lobbied all along. MLB, in fact, used to lobby a heck of a lot more than it does now. According to OpenSecrets.org, MLB spent between $1.5-1.6 million on lobbying efforts in 1998-99.
Monday, January 11, 2016
The case — Garber v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — may not be the highest-profile lawsuit currently proceeding against MLB. But from the league’s perspective, it’s almost certainly the most important.
Long-time Fangraphs readers are probably already familiar with the Garber suit, as we’ve previously covered the case on a number of different occasions. By way of a brief recap, though, the lawsuit essentially alleges that MLB violates federal antitrust law by assigning its teams exclusive local broadcast territories (the same rules that also give rise to MLB’s infamous blackout policy).
Not only do the plaintiffs allege that the creation of these exclusive territories illegally prevents MLB teams from competing for television revenue in each others’ home markets, but they also contend the rules restrict teams from competing with the league itself in the national broadcast marketplace (preventing teams from signing their own national television contracts, for instance, or offering their own out-of-market pay-per-view services in competition with MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV).
Thus, the Garber suit presents a direct challenge to MLB’s existing television business model, one that could revolutionize the way in which baseball is broadcast in the future.
Monday, August 31, 2015
The district court granted MLB an initial victory in the Chen case last year, determining that FanFest was not subject to the FLSA and therefore was immune from the federal minimum wage and overtime requirements. Now, in a recent decision issued earlier this month, MLB has scored yet another victory with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirming the trial court’s finding that the FLSA does not apply to FanFest.
However, while the Chen decision certainly represents an important decision with respect to the rights of FanFest volunteers, the appellate court’s recent opinion appears unlikely to have a significant impact on the other minimum-wage lawsuits pending against the league. Therefore, the various lawsuits challenging both MLB’s minor league and scout pay practices remain very much alive despite the recent rulings in the FanFest case.
The appellate court based its recent decision in the FanFest case on a relatively obscure provision in the FLSA, Section 213(a)(3), which states that seasonal “amusement or recreational establishments” — typically those that operate seven months or less per year — are not subject to the law’s minimum wage or overtime provisions.
In particular, MLB had argued that the 2013 FanFest at issue in the case qualified as a seasonal establishment under Section 213(a)(e) since it lasted five days, and clearly provided patrons with amusement or recreational services. Thus, MLB argued, FanFest was immune from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements.
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