AT&T, DirecTV Face Lawsuit Filed By The Justice Department Over An Alleged Blackout Of Dodgers Channel

The Department of Justice just filed a lawsuit against DirecTV and AT&T Inc. Apparently, they both acted as ringleaders in unlawful information exchanges. This caused a blackout of Dodgers channel. Ultimately, Dodgers fans were not able to watch the games of their favorite team on TV.

The Lawsuit Against AT&T And DirecTV

Based on the press release, DirectTV allegedly exchanged competitively sensitive information with AT&T, Cox Communications Inc. and Charter Communications Inc. This supposedly happened when DirecTV was in negotiations to hold the right to telecast Dodgers games.

It was also revealed that they also discussed future plans whether to carry SportsNet LA or not. They may have done this to obtain bargaining leverage and reduce the risk of losing subscribers. Presently, the Dodgers channel is not carried by any of them. That decision might have been driven by the information they obtained through these unlawful agreements.

The Effect On Their Customers

According to The Washington Post, the said illegal plot in 2014 enabled the TV providers to not worry about any competition. However, this only meant that their customers who are also Dodgers fan were the most affected.

This was reflected by a statement from DOJ's antitrust division Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Sallet. According to the USA Today, Sallet said that Dodgers fans were denied a fair competitive process. Furthermore, they were less likely to watch their hometown team.

AT&T's Statement On The Allegations

The Washington Post further reports that AT&T said that it makes carriage decisions independently. They said that the said controversial negotiations occurred before it acquired DirecTV. It should be noted that AT&T's acquisition costs $49 billion.

The company insisted that no other major TV provider chose to carry the said content. They shifted the blame on Time Warner Cable. According to AT&T, no one would have wanted to pay the inflated prices it demanded. It also does not help that the channel is devoted solely to LA Dodgers baseball.

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