DirecTV still balking at Laker channel

timewarner2.jpgOr perhaps it's Time Warner Cable balking at what DirecTV has offered to carry the Laker channel. Whatever the case, both sides have yet to reach a deal and that has many thousands of DirecTV customers unhappy. Cox Cable, meanwhile, will have the Laker game tonight as part of its new deal with TWC. From the LAT:

DirecTV has asked if it could offer SportsNet on a specialty tier with similar channels that subscribers would have to request and pay extra for, an offer Time Warner Cable rejected. Time Warner Cable is seeking as much as $3.95 per month, per subscriber for SportsNet, according to people familiar with the matter.

DirecTV CEO Michael White says the problem goes well beyond a dispute with Time Warner Cable. During a conference call with analysts, he cited rising programming costs as the big issue - and judging by his comments, an agreement on the sports channel isn't in sight. Remember how long it took TWC to cut a deal for the NFL Network?

In terms of Los Angeles, I think it's another example of how broken this system is. People take the same content, package it up, bid it up for 3x the national average on a per-game basis and then try and stick it back to the other distributors in the geography. And I think that's very unfortunate. We have a system of very carefully tracking churn by day to look at kind of what we think our customers will be most interested in. We are continuing to have active discussions about the Lakers Network. We hope to have a deal on that content. But all of these new channels that -- everybody wants a new channel and they want to stick it into the bundle is not right. I mean, we are taxing most of our customers who wouldn't be willing to pay for that content. And I've said before, I think the regional sports network's structure in the industry is broken, and it is, but I'm probably not going to be able to change that overnight. But adding other stuff to the bundle that the average consumer can't pay for without allowing it to be sold to those that want to pay for it is just not right. So we'll continue to stand strong for our customers. I got to represent the majority of our customers, not just the few that want to send me an e-mail, and I'm trying very hard to do that in a disciplined way.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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