Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred yesterday stated unequivocally that he will not get involved in the Los Angeles Dodgers TV dispute that has left many home viewers without their favorite team for four seasons.
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Time Warner Cable agreed to pay a whopping $8.35 billion over 25 years to the Dodgers for the broadcast rights to their games, which have aired on the SportsNet LA regional sports channel since 2014.
However, DIRECTV and most other major TV providers in the LA market have refused to carry the channel because they say TWC (and now Charter, which purchased the cable operator in 2016) has demanded excessive fees to offset the record-breaking payments to the Dodgers.
Consequently, Charter now is the only major pay TV service in the market to offer SportsNet LA, which means more than 60 percent of area viewers are shut out.
The Los Angeles Times writes that Manfred said yesterday at an All-Star Game press conference in Miami that he would not encourage Charter or the Dodgers to try to renegotiate the $8.35 billion contract so the cable operator could offer better carriage terms, which would presumably lead to more providers carrying the channel.
In fact, Manfred seemed less than sympathetic to the plight of non-Charter subscribers who can’t watch the games at home.
“First of all,” Manfred said, “Dodger fans can in fact see the games if they become Charter Spectrum subscribers.”
The Times pointed out that Charter does not offer service in the entire LA market so his statement was not quite accurate. Manfred then conceded that not everyone can get Charter, but he reiterated he could not get involved.
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“It’s not my job to tell a club to renegotiate its television agreements,” Manfred said. “I think the much more productive course, and we have pursued this course, is to try to work with the parties who actually have an economic interest here,” he said, referring to the team, Charter and the cable and satellite operators which do not carry SportsNet LA.
— Phillip Swann