LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Federal prosecutors Wednesday announced a lawsuit against telecom giant AT&T for allegedly using its DirecTV unit to block a TV channel owned by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The U.S. Justice Department filed the lawsuit in federal court accusing DirecTV of mounting a campaign to convince AT&T – at the time a separate company from DirecTV – Charter Communications and Cox Communications not to carry SportsNet LA.
The Dodger-owned station is broadcast exclusively on Time Warner Cable.
“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,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Sallet of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said in a statement. “Competition, not collusion, best serves consumers and that is especially true when, as with pay-television providers, consumers have only a handful of choices in the marketplace.”
In response to the suit, AT&T attorney David McAtee issued the following statement: “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. 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.