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14 Feb

DirecTV Will Fight US Antitrust Suit Over The LA Dodgers Channel

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DirecTV executives recently said that they have refused to pay for the Time Warner Cable Inc’s Los Angeles Dodgers channel, as they have been “burned” before, overpaying to air Lakers games, and not because they are conspiring with others to get advantage on competitors.

That is the defense DirecTV, the biggest satellite TV provider of the Unites States, will use while asking a judge to throw away a Department of Justice lawsuit, which accuses DirecTV of joining hands with competitors in 2014 to get an edge over TWC in the licensing negotiations.

As per the government, DirecTV was the leader of a conspiracy among the distributors in Los Angeles area, which left almost 70% of the pay TV users in the second largest media market of the US without access to the Dodgers games in 2014. This happened two years before Charter Communications acquired Time Warner Cable. The deal made it the Los Angeles provider of Dodger games and as a result of the deal, thousands of fans of the games still do not have access to the live broadcast of the games, the Justice Department said.

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Charter Communications said in a statement that they do not expect any other pay TV provider to offer SportsNet LA by opening day of baseball season. DirecTV provided a gentler explanation for why no LA pay TV distributor picked up the channel of the local Major League Baseball franchise. “TWC’s exorbitant prices and bargaining intransigence.” DirecTV had paid a premium to carry TWC’s Lakers channel only to see the NBA team’s ratings and performance tank and after that, they resolved not to commit the same mistake with the Dodgers channel.

The case is in Los Angeles federal court and it is playing out a delicate time for AT&T, as they are trying in Washington to acquire permissions to buy Time Warner. President Trump voiced opposition to the deal earlier during his campaign and after taking the President’s office, Trump is said to have told people privately that he still opposes the move.

The dueling narratives on the channel will be debated at hearing that is set for March 13, 2017. In the hearing, a judge will decide whether the lawsuit should be permitted to proceed.

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