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Published: Fri, November 04, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Justice files antitrust suit against DirecTV over Dodgers broadcasts

Justice files antitrust suit against DirecTV over Dodgers broadcasts

In that deal, Time Warner Cable (TWC), which owns SportsNet LA, and the Dodgers reached an agreement in which the team would exclusively televise the games on the Dodgers' own channel (save for national telecasts). Furthermore, York "disclosed nonpublic information" about the status of DirectTV's negotiations with Time Warner Cable and, in return, "learned similar non-public information" from the company's competitors, according to the feds.

"We respect the DOJ's important role in protecting consumers, but in this case, which occurred before AT&T's acquisition of DirecTV, we see the facts differently", AT&T told Ars.

"I have been working all year to make sure that the fans in Los Angeles can watch their beloved Dodgers on TV", Hahn said in the statement.

The complaint also names DirecTV's parent company, AT&T.

The channel, folded into the Dodgers' ownership group and run by American Media Productions LLC, is now known as Spectrum SportsNet LA. In some cases, prosecutors said those assurances came just before those counterparts recommended against picking up the channel. As for Dodgers fans, at least they have the whole offseason to find better TV providers.

AT&T and DirecTV acted as ringleaders in an illegal plot against the Dodgers Channel that kept Los Angeles sports fans from watching their favorite team on television, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Justice Department. "Having been burned by this experience, DirecTV approached the Dodgers Channel negotiations determined not to allow Time Warner Cable to successfully employ such a strategy again", the government says.

Although the cable companies serve specific geographic areas, often with little or no direct competition from other cable providers, DirecTV is available everywhere, making it a direct competitor for all pay-TV providers. The provider successfully offered "most-favored nations" deals with the cable companies, guaranteeing them the same price for the channel that larger pay-TV company, such as DirecTV, might achieve - provided the cable companies signed up quickly. The companies were steadfast in their resistance to carrying the channel.

Competitors like AT&T, DirecTV, Cox and others balked at the company's rumored $5 per subscriber asking price for the channel.

The channel launched in 2014 but Time Warner Cable was unable to get pay-TV operators, such as DirecTV, who complained that the carriage fees were exorbitant, to pay for it.

The government calls DirecTV the "ringleader of a series of unlawful information exchanges" with Cox, Charter, and AT&T as the companies were negotiating with SportsNetLA, which holds the rights to almost all Dodgers games in Los Angeles. York "a$3 greed" that "others holding firm is key". Justice Department officials said the inquiry started more than a year ago.

"The allegations against DirecTV in today's complaint by the U.S. Justice Department are shocking but not surprising", Kasten said.

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