Congressman Brad Sherman

Representing the 30th District of CALIFORNIA

Binding arbitration would put Dodgers on the air now: Brad Sherman


Aug 6, 2014

By Brad Sherman
Friday, August 1, 2014

Time Warner Cable bought the rights to telecast Dodgers games throughout the Los Angeles area.
Everyone agrees that the Dodgers games should be available on DirecTV, and other cable and satellite
systems that are following DirecTV’s lead.

But the companies can’t agree over how much Time Warner Cable should be paid. This dispute has
already cost Dodgers fans in most of the Southland the chance to watch their team for well over half the

On July 28, I wrote a letter, also signed by five of my Los Angeles congressional colleagues, urging the
cable/satellite companies to put the Dodgers games on now, and to have a neutral arbitrator determine the
price later. A panel of three neutral arbitrators appointed by the American Arbitration Association would
determine a fair price for the Dodgers network, by looking at what is paid for telecasting rights for various
baseball teams around the country.

On July 29, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission wrote to thank me for bringing this
matter to his attention and to assure me that the FCC would now begin an investigation that could lead to
intervention. (Only if the investigation reveals particular facts will the FCC have jurisdiction to order binding

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, “Earlier this week, in response to pressure from U.S. Rep. Brad
Sherman and other members of Congress, Time Warner Cable said it would be willing to enter binding
arbitration with DirecTV and other distributors to resolve the dispute.” The Dodgers have also endorsed my
binding arbitration proposal.

DirecTV and its allies have not agreed to binding arbitration. However, in similar disputes in San Francisco,
Boston, Oakland, and Chicago in 2009, DirecTV not only agreed to binding arbitration, but initiated those
arbitrations. Dodgers fans deserve the same respect accorded in 2009 to fans of the Giants, A’s, Cubs,
and in the case of basketball, the Celtics.

Binding arbitration is a private-sector solution to resolving business disputes.
Private-sector companies enter into tens of millions of contracts every year that call for binding arbitration if
a dispute develops. Immediate binding arbitration is the only mechanism that will get the Dodgers games
on the air now.

DirecTV claims that Time Warner overpaid when it bought the telecast rights from the Dodgers, and that
DirecTV should not have to pay a fee based on Time Warner’s “mistake.” However, neutral arbitrators
would look at dozens of baseball broadcasting contracts from around the country, not just the famous
contract between Time Warner and the Dodgers.

In Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Denver it’s DirecTV that owns the telecast rights, and baseball is shown on the
TVs of all local cable and satellite subscribers. The arbitrators will certainly look at what DirecTV charges 
in those cities. Maybe the Dodgers aren’t worth as much as Time Warner paid for them, but I believe
they’re worth as much as the Mariners, Pirates or Rockies.

I can assure you that my involvement in this matter has not distracted me from other Congressional duties.
This week I’ve been actively involved in hearings on the Ukraine, the Gaza Strip, Iran’s nuclear program
and stock market regulation, together with efforts on the House floor regarding immigration, transportation
funding, and veterans’ healthcare.

The amount of time I spent on the Dodgers network dispute is scarcely more than the amount of time I
would have spent watching the Dodgers play the Braves this week (at least I’ve been able to read the fine
accounts of the games by Robert Morales).

There is one hope for putting the Dodgers on TV now: push DirecTV to agree to enter binding arbitration. I
would urge the Daily News and other leading institutions in Los Angeles to join with me, with my five
colleagues, and with Vin Scully in urging DirecTV to air the Dodgers games now — and agree to pay a fair
price determined by a panel of neutral arbitrators.

Brad Sherman represents California’s 30th District in the United States Congress.

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