Angelenos aren’t the only ones upset that they were blocked from watching Dodger baseball for the last three seasons.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an antitrust suit in federal court on Wednesday against DirecTV Group Holdings LLC and AT&T Inc., alleging that the companies illegally shared information with competitors during negotiations to carry SportsNet LA, the exclusive Dodgers broadcast launched by the team and Time Warner Cable in 2014.
The complaint alleges that these closed-door conversations helped provide bargaining leverage to the companies involved, including AT&T, DirecTV, Cox Communications Inc., and Charter Communications Inc. The information obtained through these discussions was a “material factor” in the media companies’ decisions to not carry the Dodgers channel, according to the DOJ.
“As the complaint explains, Dodgers fans were denied a fair competitive process when DIRECTV orchestrated a series of information exchanges with direct competitors that ultimately made consumers less likely to be able to watch their hometown team,” said Jonathan Sallet, deputy assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s antitrust division, in a statement.
While AT&T said it respects the DOJ’s role in protecting consumers, the company “sees the facts differently” in this case, which occurred before AT&T acquired DirecTV, said AT&T’s general counsel David McAtee in a statement.
“The reason why no other major TV provider chose to carry this content was that no one wanted to force all of their customers to pay the inflated prices that Time Warner Cable was demanding for a channel devoted solely to LA Dodgers baseball,” said McAtee. “We make our carriage decisions independently, legally and only after thorough negotiations with the content owner. We look forward to presenting these facts in court.”
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