Congressional reps call for FCC to mediate Dodgers TV dispute

first_imgEight local Congressional representatives have signed a letter asking the Federal Communications Commission to mediate the ongoing dispute over the Dodgers’ television network SportsNet LA.Time Warner Cable, which owns the distribution rights to the channel, has not brokered agreements with most major local providers, including DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, Cox, Verizon FiOS, Charter, Comcast and Dish Network. As a result, approximately 70 percent of Southern Californians haven’t been able to watch the Dodgers unless their games are broadcast by national networks ESPN and Fox.The letter, authored by U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley), reads: “The tradition of the Los Angeles Dodgers accompanied by the iconic voice of Vin Scully remains a pastime that families across Los Angeles eagerly anticipate every baseball season. Unfortunately, we are at the midpoint in the season and thousands of baseball fans remain in the dark.”The letter was co-signed by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Commerce), Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), Linda Sanchez (D-Lakewood), Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro) and Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village). To this point in the dispute — 105 games into baseball’s regular season — the federal government has refrained from intervening. But Cárdenas, who said he grew up listening to Fernando Valenzuela pitch for the Dodgers in both English and Spanish, said he considers this a “serious business issue.”“We’re not just talking about households,” Cárdenas said. “We’re talking about organizations in Los Angeles that would love to get together with friends at sports bars, and it makes it much more difficult for them. Everybody has a right to negotiate and I respect that, but there comes a point in time in some industries where it’s different.”The FCC’s Market Disputes Resolution Division (MDRD) has mediated regional cable disputes in the past, Cárdenas said. According to the FCC’s website, the MDRD mediates and adjudicates disputes brought by market participants, entities or organizations against common carriers. The process of mediation is considered a precursor to filing a formal complaint with the agency.Cárdenas said that he hopes the FCC will respond to the letter within two to three weeks. At that point, if necessary, he will try to get signatures from more of his colleagues in Congress.The 29th Congressional District, which Cárdenas represents, encompasses Van Nuys, San Fernando, Pacoima, Arleta, Panorama City, Sylmar, and parts of North Hollywood. Cárdenas said that Time Warner is the major cable provider in the area. However, he took issue with what’s happened as a result of Time Warner Cable broadcasting the Dodgers via SportsNet LA and controlling the distribution rights for the channel.“Say you were selling a popular brand of potato chips,” Cárdenas said. “They would love to be in every mom and pop liquor store, every major supermarket, everything in between. They would want to be on every shelf everywhere. In this case, we have this popular potato chip — the Dodgers — and they only want you to come to their store to get it. “There’s incentive for (Time Warner) to say no, ‘you can only buy it from us, and the outlet that we control.’ This is a regulated industry. Potato chips aren’t regulated. But the public would assume that you want the product to go everywhere. That’s where it gets ugly. That’s where you get winners and losers.”“The diversity of people” who can watch the Dodgers, Cárdenas added, “is probably more compressed than ever.”The Dodgers issued a statement in response to the news, saying “we are open to any activity that would move forward a deal so that fans can once again enjoy their Dodgers.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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