To determine whether an agreement unreasonably restrains trade, courts historically have applied…

To determine whether an agreement unreasonably restrains
trade, courts historically have applied either per se or rule of reason
analysis. The objective of either standard is “to form a judgment about the
competitive significance of the restraint,” although the respective application
of these tests is quite different. Restraints deemed to be predominantly
anticompetitive, as a matter of law or fact, are found to be unreasonable and
thus illegal under the antitrust laws. Under the per se rule, certain
restraints are conclusively presumed to be illegal as a matter of law because
of their significant adverse effects on competition and lack of redeeming
procompetitive virtues. Under the rule of reason, the anticompetitive effects
of the challenged restraint are balanced against its procompetitive effects on
a case-by-case basis, considering the specific facts introduced into evidence
by the parties. Although the Supreme Court notes that agreements among industry
competitors to fix prices and limit output generally are illegal per se, why
does it analyze the legality of the NCAA’s television plan (an output
restriction raising the price networks paid for television rights) under the
rule of reason? What procompetitive justifications justify NCAA rules and
regulation, and why did the Board of Regents majority reject them as defenses
to an antitrust challenge to the NCAA’s television plan? The federal antitrust
laws are intended to ensure that consumers receive the benefits of a
competitive marketplace. Have college football fans benefited from judicial
invalidation of the NCAA’s college football television plan? How much impact
has the decision in the Board of Regents case had on the commercialization of
college football?

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