Dodgers News: Justice Department Sues AT&T-DirecTV, Alleges Collusion In Blocking SportsNet LA
Dodgers News: Sportsnet La Negotiations With Directv And Others Come To Halt

Since the Los Angeles Dodgers signed a record television-rights contract with Time Warner Cable to form SportsNet LA they’ve been unable to break through against resistance from pay-TV providers to gain wider distribution.

TWC, renamed Spectrum, has regularly been turned away by Dish Network, DirecTV, Verizon FiOS. There was hope the merger between AT&T and DirecTV would be enough to end the impasse, but there hasn’t been any progress since the merger was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in July 2015.

DirecTV previously declined to enter binding arbitration with TWC last year. Short- and long-term contracts offers were submitted to providers prior to the Dodgers beginning the 2016 season, though to no avail.

In April, Congresswoman Janice Hahn of the 44th district in California wrote letters to Time Warner Cable and AT&T requesting a joint meeting in effort to find a resolution. DirecTV rejected Hahn’s request.

Now, AT&T-DirecTV finds itself at the center of a lawsuit brought forth by the U.S. Justice Department, alleging collusion to block distribution of SportsNet LA, per Meg James of the LA Times:

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles, the Justice Department accused DirecTV of being a ringleader in an effort to make sure that three other pay-TV companies — Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T (which was then separate from DirecTV) — would refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodgers-owned TV channel.

The lawsuit alleges that the four companies engaged in illegal conduct, sharing nonpublic information among themselves, to gain bargaining leverage in negotiations with Time Warner Cable, which was struggling to get the pay TV companies to sign up for the channel.

“The allegations against DirecTV in today’s complaint by the U.S. Justice Department are shocking but not surprising,” Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said in released statement. “We hope today’s actions leads to all Dodger fans finally being able to view all Dodger games everywhere in the market.”

AT&T, Cox Communications, and the like, have cited a high cost per subscriber as their explanation for refusing to carry SportsNet LA. However, in March, the channel was offered at a decreased rate that was in line with typical prices of regional sports networks.

“I have been working all year to make sure that the fans in Los Angeles can watch their beloved Dodgers on TV. Now to hear that AT&T may have purposefully been prolonging this blackout is troubling to me and all the Dodger fans who were hoping for a resolution,” Hahn said in a released statement.

“I am glad that the Department of Justice is looking into these allegations and I am hopeful that by next season we can clear a path to getting the Dodgers back on television.”

The Dodgers signed a 25-year, $8.35 billion contract with TWC in January 2013.