With the L.A. Dodgers currently boasting the best record in the National League, and TV coverage of their games unavailable to many L.A. viewers, a group of Southern California lawmakers is asking the Federal Communications Commission to get involved, the Los Angeles Times reports.
“Seven members of Congress led by Rep. Tony Cardenas are calling on the FCC to mediate an agreement between Time Warner Cable and distributors,” the paper reports. The move would be an effort to end a bitter dispute between TWC and other pay-TV providers over distribution of SportsNet LA, the Dodgers’ new home channel.
“Launched this year, SportsNet LA is not available in the majority of pay-TV homes in the Los Angeles market. Time Warner Cable secured rights to distribute the Dodgers-owned channel in a 25-year deal worth $8.35 billion, according to a valuation by the Dodgers and Major League Baseball,” the story reports.
“Time Warner Cable has been unable to land carriage agreements with other distributors serving the market including DirecTV, Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Verizon FiOS,” the report notes. “Only Time Warner Cable subscribers have access to the channel, which means about 70% of the market has been unable to see Dodger games on TV except for the handful that have been nationally televised on Fox and ESPN,”
At the center of the standoff, not surprisingly, is price — specifically the price Time Warner Cable is asking for carriage of the channel.
“According to people familiar with the talks, Time Warner Cable wants more than $4 a month per subscriber in the first year with the price rising steadily through the life of the deal. Distributors including DirecTV have said they want flexibility to offer the channel only to subscribers who want it and not all subscribers,” the Times reports.
In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Cardenas wrote: “Consumers deserve the opportunity to watch their program of choice. The ongoing stalemate between Time Warner Cable and other pay-TV providers has reached a point where mediation by the FCC is necessary.”
Along with Cardenas, the letter was signed by Democratic House members Lucille Roybal-Allard, Judy Chu, Alan Lowenthal, Linda Sanchez, Janice Hahn and Julia Brownley.