FanPost

A Little History on Football TV Contracts

 

I thought I’d try to add a little more historical perspective on how we have gotten to where we are today in college football regarding the "BCS System" and college football television contracts because the two subjects are interrelated.

The following link from Wiki provides a nice little historical summary regarding college football broadcasting rights:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_football_on_television

 

The key to understanding all this is in the nugget that prior to 1984, the NCAA controlled who could be on tv. With the Supreme Court’s decision in 1984 holding that the NCAA was violating anti-trust laws, the College Football Association entered the picture to negotiate tv rights on behalf of its members. From this link http://ideas.repec.org/p/van/wpaper/0320.html I have quoted the following:

 

"The College Football Association (CFA) sold rights to broadcast live games of its members from 1984 through 1995. It competed directly with the Big Ten and Pac Ten universities that sold an alternative broadcast package. Each of the duopolists dominated certain geographic areas, so that they retained much of the monopoly power of the single NCAA cartel that they replaced. The CFA restricted output in order to elevate rights fees, and limited entry into the Association. The broadcast rights fees it collected substantially exceeded marginal cost. This article examines how the number of sellers, entry conditions, product homogeneity, and the elasticity of demand fostered the cartel, and how the cartel prevented cheating on the agreement. Eventually, disputes over the distribution of the rents led to defections. Penn State and Notre Dame left in 1990 and 1991. When the Southeastern Conference struck out independently after 1995, the CFA collapsed. It sealed its books on June 30, 1997."

 

Now, I offer this historical perspective in the hope that those who believe that Dan Wetzel and the "Death to the BCS" crowd are operating on behalf of some grassroots collective of righteous college football purists will open their eyes a little and perhaps recognize that Wetzel and his crowd are really tools who are operating on behalf of a bunch of money grubbing weasels (just a slightly different bunch of money grubbing weasels than the BCS folks, although I don’t discount the possibility that it’s all one group - but that gets us into another whole grassy-knoll level of conspiracy, and I’m not sober enough to go there just now).

What am I getting at? Well, when folks say "we" have to come up with a better system of picking a NATIONAL CHAMPION IN BIG TIME COLLEGE FOOTBALL, I ask, "who is the ‘we.’" The NCAA does not have the power right now to do it, and Wetzel’s proposal and the powers-that-be are not proposing any system which would grant the NCAA those powers. The whole argument is about which group of moneyed interests will exploit this system and to whose benefit. Unless there are real changes in the law which would grant a real body with real rule making authority (i.e. the "consent of the governed" type of thing), to me this is a hollow argument and I’m not willing to get caught up in the manufactured hysteria of the unfairness of who the real #1 is and risk the great regular season in college football just to get to a real #1. As for the "big increase in tv fees" such a system would generate - well - those increases would just go to the sports entrepreneurs who are pushing this crap. Money arms race. That stuff.

Just some perspective.  TB, I know you are up on this stuff more than I am, and maybe some of your prior posts have dealt with this stuff.  If so, I hope this helps on the subject.  I know you could add a lot in this area.

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