Dodgers, TimeWarner Blackout Draws Ire of Local Congress Members

With more than two-thirds of the season gone, there is no indication that the stalemate between the Dodgers, Time Warner Cable and their bastard progeny, SportsNet LA, on one hand, and millions of Dodgers’ fans and virtually ever other TV provider within a couple of hundred miles of Dodgers’ Stadium on the other, will ever be resolved, and a group of Democratic members of Congress have decided that, while they can instigate no action within Congress, that it is worth a try to get something done for the baseball fan sitting three thousand miles away from Washington, D.C. Perhaps that is far enough away from House leadership that they will be able to exert some degree of influence. Perhaps.

The group of seven representatives, led by Tony Cardenas and including Lucille Roybal-Allard, Judy Chu, Alan Lowenthal, Linda Sanchez, Janice Hahn and Julia Brownley, have written to the FCC, requesting that the agency step in a broker a deal.

Does anyone see the utter hypocrisy in this statement issued by the Dodgers:
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“We are open to any activity that will move forward a deal so that fans can once again enjoy their Dodgers.”

Any activity? Surely they are not serious. One must ask, what exactly brought about the stalemate that has caused Dodgers’ games to be unavailable to 70% of area residents? The answer is simple, it is greed – greed on the part of the Dodgers, and above all, greed on the part of Time Warner Cable. When the Dodgers agreed with Time Warner Cable to accept the piddling sum of $8.3 billion dollars over the next 25 years for the exclusive rights to market the teams’ games in the region, did the Dodgers not realized that by accepting that outrageous sum that someone, somewhere, would have to pay into a bucket for the


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Dodgers to be able to open that spigot? Those people are the customers of Charter Cable, Cox Cable, DirectTV, Verizon FIOS, and all the rest, who will not absorb the cost of SportsNet LA but who will only add the service and Dodgers' games to their systems by charging customers more, and that extra charge is determined by the fee that Time Warner Cable has set, a fee that no TV provider so far has accepted as reasonable.

Surely the Dodgers realized that Time Warner Cable is not a charity, that they would not be giving away vast riches to the Dodgers and free games to the public – someone has to pay not just that $8.3 billion but also a sizable profit to TimeWarner for their job as middleman. So, would not some activity that would “move forward a deal” include the Dodgers re-negotiating that deal, so just maybe they would take a little bit less money that would then allow a reasonable fee scale for other cable, satellite, and fiber optic outlets to


carry Dodgers' games, without having to overcharge their customers, many of who couldn't care less about sports?

Of course, another alternative would be actual state and federal regulation of cable and satellite providers, that would both make all such providers have to justify any and all cost increases, and that would outlaw bundling, giving customers the absolute right to receive and pay for only the outlets they want, or, even better, giving customers the right to only pay for shows that they actually watch, rather than having to a pay to be able to watch shows in which they have no interest and never turn on.

Think of it, you have one TV, and you have 100 channels that you pay for, but you only watch one at a time. Isn’t having to pay for access to 100 channels while you are only watching one of them the exact same thing as going to a multiplex and having to pay for all ten movies, when you are only watching one of them?

That is where this group of seven members of Congress should be looking to make a difference.

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