No issue is too small, apparently, for legislative intervention. That’s about the only conclusion you can draw from lawmakers wanting to insert themselves’ in the dust-up between the NFL and the cable industry. One thing’s is for sure, if the Legislature does get involved, taxpayers will end being sacked, tackled and fouled.
The last I checked, legislators failed to deliver on much-needed property tax appraisal reform, didn’t strengthen the state’s flimsy spending limit, and avoided any immediate return of the $14 billion surplus. But according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, some lawmakers feel it is critically important for the Legislature to force cable companies to show NFL games. Yes, THAT is the critical taxpayer issue of the day.
But here’s the deal: the NFL is a business entity that charges for the broadcast-rights to the games, just like the cable companies are for-profit operations that charge to deliver content. So this is about the business relationship between multi-billion-dollar corporate giants.
The NFL is painting this as a “help the poor football fan” issue. That’s a personal foul. The NFL charges hundreds of dollars for folks to attend their games; those players won’t just rush, pass, tackle and kick for free. The NFL makes you shell out big bucks to buy a jersey with your favorite team logo on it. And most of us have to take out second-mortgages if we want to buy a soft-drink and hot dog at an NFL game.
(And speaking of which, the NFL partners with local government in raising taxes to build their football stadiums. They rack in billions, but still want you to pay for their stadiums, which you in turn cannot afford to get into.)
At the end of the day, for-profit entities make decisions that are, quite basically, for profit. The cable companies will determine if their profitability — as defined by customers staying or leaving — warrants paying fees to buy the rights to show the games, and then what to charge their customers. The NFL, likewise, will determine the issues that affect their profitability, based on broadcast sales, merchandising, etc.
And the question of profitability arises from both sides being able to find a market for what they are selling at the price they demand. Willing buyers, willing sellers. It really is that simple. If one broadcaster doesn’t want to “sell” the content, then someone else will. The marketplace always provides for a market need.
But in no way should legislators force anyone to carry, or not carry, content — especially content provided by another for-profit entity!
When government stays out of the way, Joe Six-Pack will end up with the best deal. These billion-dollar-bruisers will beat each other up, one will walk to the showers, and the games will be available where the market exists on TV, cable, satellite, the Internet, wherever.
One thing is certain. The only way for Joe to lose is for the legislature to get involved.
Lawmakers should stay where they belong — sitting in skyboxes, safely removed from everyone who just wants to enjoy the game.