If there ever existed proof that government-imposed monopolies harm customers, the current cage match between Comcast, Peter Angelos, the Washington Nationals, and MASN is the shining example. (It also touches on a stupid business practice by Major League Baseball.) Comcast refuses to carry MASN, which has television broadcast rights to the Washington Nationals. I have no problem with the business decision by Comcast, though I despise it as a customer. Not because I want to watch the Nationals. I don’t, except when they’re playing the Phillies. The Nationals are currently in Philadelphia for a three-game series, of which all three games will be blacked out for all non-MASN outlets.
Last night, for example, Major League Baseball would not allow INHD to broadcast the game to my cable system, nor did it allow MLB Extra Innings to broadcast the game to me. It’s important to note that I’ve paid MLB for the games, yet they funnel me to MASN. This is where the problem culminates. Without MASN, I missed the game.
This could be easily resolved by Comcast or Major League Baseball putting customers first, but I’ve come to expect little from either. I tolerate Major League Baseball’s policy with my business only because I love the Phillies and watching the majority of their games not blacked out. I do write a letter every year, however. With Comcast, I only have the option to switch to satellite. That’s a fine form of competition, but it’s not feasible for my house and needs. The solution is simple, of course, but government won’t get out of the regulation business. Instead, I’m presented with idiotic symbolism:
Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) [last week] signed into law a bill requiring Comcast, which is the District’s main cable provider, to begin broadcasting Washington Nationals games or face the possibility of losing its license to operate in the city.
The bill, which was passed unanimously by the D.C. Council earlier this month, says that unless the games are on the air beginning [last week], the District and Comcast must enter into negotiations to discuss the franchise agreement and explore ways of getting the games on the air.
So, rather than open the city to competition and allow the invisible hand to do the work of providing MASN, the City Council and mayor would prefer city residents (theoretically) be without cable television service completely. This is reasonable how, other than to prove that politicians want to be central planners masquerading as heroes? Remove legal barriers to entry and let the market decide; instead of just voicing an opinion, customers could then vote with their most powerful weapon possible. If the City Council and Mayor Williams did that, MASN would be on Comcast tonight.
And I’d get to watch the Phillies.