A group of legislators from Southern California asked the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to help resolve a dispute that has left many local pay-TV customers without access to Los Angeles Dodgers games.
The eight Congress members, all Democrats, include Brad Sherman and Lucille Roybal-Allard. They have asked the FCC to mediate. Time Warner Cable Inc., which holds the rights to Dodgers games, hasn’t reached agreements on fees with DirecTV, Charter Communications Inc. or other pay-TV systems in the area for its SportsNet LA channel.
“The ongoing stalemate between Time Warner Cable and other pay-TV providers has reached a point where mediation by the FCC is necessary,” the legislators said in a letter dated July 25 and sent to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Time Warner Cable, which paid $8.35 billion for 25 years of Dodgers games in 2013, is being acquired by Comcast Corp. in a $45.2 billion deal that is under review by U.S. regulators. After divestitures, the combined company would have about 30 million cable-TV subscribers, in addition to NBCUniversal and regional sports networks. Philadelphia-based Comcast is the largest U.S. cable-TV operator, with New York-based Time Warner Cable second.
Midway through the season, the Dodgers have a 59-47 win-loss record and lead the National League West division. Customers of Time Warner Cable, which has the largest footprint of any cable company in the market, have been able to see the games.
DirecTV, based in El Segundo, California, is the largest U.S. satellite-TV carrier. It is being acquired by AT&T Inc. for $66 billion.
Sports rights are becoming more important to TV networks and their advertisers because the programs are watched live and draw large audiences. AT&T can cancel its acquisition of DirecTV if the satellite carrier can’t renew its NFL Sunday Ticket contract, which allows customers to watch out-of-market football games.
The other legislators who signed the letter include Tony Cardenas, Alan Lowenthal, Linda Sanchez, Janice Hahn, Julia Brownley and Judy Chu.