On behalf of the Dodgers, team president and CEO Stan Kasten spoke tonight in favor of a proposal from a group of six California-based members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Brad Sherman, calling for binding arbitration between Time Warner Cable and potential carriers that would enable immediate distribution of 24-hour Dodger channel SportsNet LA to all available homes in Southern California.
Time Warner Cable also said it would submit to binding arbitration with potential distributors of SportsNet LA (including DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, Dish Network and Verizon Fios), effectively taking the negotiations out of Time Warner Cable’s hands.
“This, if it were agreed upon, would end this blackout right away, today, and we would be on the air literally tomorrow night in the entire area, ” Kasten said at a Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission event at Dodger Stadium this evening. “I want to thank Congressman Sherman and his colleagues for their diligent work and their concern for Dodger fans everywhere. I think it’s a very useful and productive step that he made.”
“We’ve heard a lot of things on both sides of this equation,” Kasten added. “This is a way to cut through all that. We’ll let an arbitrator decide who’s right and who’s wrong, and we can move on. And we don’t need to wait for the outcome of the arbitration. Once both sides agree to submit, we can turn the games on right away and they can figure out the price later.”
Kasten’s words followed an affirmative response from Time Warner Cable earlier in the evening to the proposal from the Sherman group.
“We are willing to enter into binding arbitration with DirecTV, and we appreciate the Congressman’s concern for Dodger fans,” Time Warner Cable’s statement read. “We prefer to reach agreements through private business negotiations, but given the current circumstance, we are willing to agree to binding arbitration and to allow DirecTV customers to watch the Dodgers games while the arbitration is concluded.”
Earlier this evening, a letter sent to the chairman/CEOs of DirecTV and Time Warner Cable by U.S. representatives Sherman, Janice Hahn, Gloria Negrete McLeod, Alan Lowenthal, Grace Napolitano and Karen Bass was released, outlining the proposal. It followed a recent letter from eight members of Congress, led by Tony Cardenas, that asked the FCC to mediate the gap between TWC and potential distributors.
“While such mediation would be helpful, it would not be binding or certain to resolve the dispute,” Sherman’s group wrote. “Now, on behalf of Dodgers fans throughout Southern California, we urge that Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and all other TV providers enter into binding arbitration, so that a neutral third party can determine the right price and terms for the Dodgers network. This will be a fair and fast way to return programming to consumers.
“Additionally, as you enter into the arbitration process, fans should no longer be left in the dark. We are requesting that SportsNet LA be made available immediately to all fans, beginning with tomorrow night’s game against the Atlanta Braves. The arbitration would determine the amount payable for games aired both before and after the arbitration is complete.”
MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred, among the speakers at the LASEC event, said that he spoke about tonight’s news with MLB commissioner Bud Selig and said “we’re in complete agreement that this is a very positive development.”