The second half of the Los Angeles Dodgers season begins Friday while the SportsNet LA distribution rights dispute continues to linger.
To this point, aside from Time Warner Cable customers, Bright House Networks and Champion Broadband subscribers also have access to SportsNet LA. AT&T, Charter, DirecTV and a slew of other cable providers have yet to agree to terms to carry the Dodgers’ exclusive network.
TWC recently placed an ad in the Los Angeles Times as a means of clarifying some of their reported demands. It was the latest measure in a saga that’s spilled outside the realm of sports with LA mayor Eric Garcetti addressing the blackout.
Given their presence in the industry, DirecTV has been viewed as TWC’s main opposition in the standoff. And according to Michael Lev of the OC Register, David Rone, president of sports, news and local programming for TWC, doesn’t believe DirecTV will add SportsNet LA this season:
My heart says never say never,” Rone said. “My mind tells me, the way they’re acting, it’s unlikely we’re going to do a deal this year.”
Rone added DirecTV hasn’t shown any urgency in negotiating and he accused them of not caring about the fans who have been left in the dark:
They’ve shown absolutely no sense of urgency towards getting a deal done, which is completely baffling to us given the quality of the Dodgers team, the fact they’re in first place and the fact they have these exciting ballplayers they’ve invested in. Fans are dying to see these games. DirecTV just doesn’t seem to care at all.”
Team president and CEO Stan Kasten stated in June he was disappointed with what’s transpired and said there is constant work being done in hopes of reaching a resolution. Aside from a handful of scheduled nationally televised games, Dodger broadcasts will largely remain on SportsNet LA as the team makes their push towards the playoffs.
When a similar situation unfolded between Cablevision and the Yes Network, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg got involved and helped foster an agreement in 2003.
Garcetti’s comments have made it clear he’s aware of the situation and is unhappy, but it may be time for him to do more.
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