SBD/June 2, 2014/Media

Dodgers, TWC May Take Legal Action To End Ongoing SportsNet LA Impasse

Dodgers games carried by SportsNet LA are still not available to many viewers
As the SportsNet LA carriage “impasse extends into a fourth month, the Dodgers and Time Warner Cable are considering whether legal action might help get the team on the air,” according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. At issue: Are all the cable and satellite operators “saying no to SportsNet LA acting independently or collectively?” The latter would be a “violation of antitrust law.” DirecTV Chair & CEO Mike White, speaking at a conference last month, said of options for dealing with rising programming costs, “The distributors start to stand together, like most of us have been doing in Los Angeles for the first time ever, by the way, with the Dodgers on outrageous increases and excesses." DirecTV PR Dir Robert Mercer said that White was “referring to the greater context of other sports channels that are not on the air, and not just in the Los Angeles market.” Mercer: "It seems that many of the distributors have independently reached the same conclusion. With all the top college conferences and individual teams creating their own overpriced channels, many families can no longer bear the cost of having to pay for every single one." L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Communications Advisor Jeff Millman said that representatives for TWC and DirecTV “assured” Garcetti on Friday that the two sides “still were in negotiations” (L.A. TIMES, 6/1). In L.A., Joseph Pimentel notes "more than 30 frustrated" Dodgers fans “picketed outside Dodger Stadium on Sunday, protesting the current impasse. PR firm Brener Zwikel & Associates President Steve Brener said that the team has “no plans to address the demonstration” (L.A. REGISTER, 6/2).

WE HAVE A PROBLEM: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig on Friday said that he “remains concerned about the Astros’ legal issues concerning” Comcast SportsNet Houston and former Astros Owner Drayton McLane, but is “hopeful that the disagreements can be resolved.” In Houston, David Barron noted Selig “discounted the possibility of splitting the five-state territory shared by the Astros and Rangers into separate TV territories as a possible answer to the carriage issues" that has limited CSN Houston viewership to no more than 40% of Houston’s TV households. DirecTV Chief Content Officer Dan York said that MLB’s “large, overlapping broadcast territories make it tough for satellite carriers to pay for CSN Houston while also carrying Rangers games on Fox Sports Southwest.” But Selig said, “I don’t know that that’s really the issue here" (CHRON.com, 5/30).
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