June 18, 2013 8:30pm PT by Kimberly Nordyke
Time Warner Cable Sued Over Lakers and Dodgers Channels
Time Warner Cable is being accused of requiring subscribers to pay higher cable bills to watch Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers games without offering them the opportunity to opt out of those channels.
A class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court -- which names TWC as well as the Lakers and Dodgers as defendants -- charged TWC with "abuse of its position as the primary provider of cable television" in Southern California.
The complaint cites TWC's $3 billion acquisition of Lakers telecast rights in February 2011 and its $8 billion acquisition of Dodgers game telecasts in January 2013. Lakers games air on TWC SportsNet and TWC Deportes, while Dodgers games will air on the SportsNet LA network.
The plaintiffs charge that because TWC has chosen to bundle these channels without allowing subscribers the ability to opt out, subscribers will be forced to pay about $4-$5 in additional fees per month as a result.
"A very large segment of the consuming public is not sufficiently interested in Dodgers games to pay $50-$60 per year, but they have no way of unsubscribing from either the Lakers or Dodgers telecast, which together will add (or will if unrestrained) about $100 per year to the subscriber's TWC bill," the complaint reads.
The Lakers and Dodgers are cited as defendants because, the complaint states, both organizations were aware that consumers -- "even non-sports fans" -- would see their monthly cable bills raised as a result of the two deals.
"TWC's bundling results in Defendants making huge profits, much of which is extracted from unwilling consumers who have no opportunity to delete unwanted telecasts," the complaint states.
The four plaintiffs represent subscribers to TWC, Charter, DirecTV and Verizon enhanced basic cable services. They are seeking an injunction to "prevent future violations and restitution of the money paid to TWC, Lakers, and Dodgers for TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes, and TWC SportsNet LA telecasts they otherwise would have rejected."
The Dodgers organization is owned by Guggenheim Baseball Management, whose parent company owns The Hollywood Reporter.
TWC and the Lakers declined comment. We've also reached out to the Dodgers.