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Dodgers

TWC Apologizes for Dodgers TV Blackout. Kind Of.

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Thu, May 8, 2014 at 6:20 AM
click to enlarge SPORTSNET LA VIA FACEBOOK
  • SportsNet LA via Facebook
Within hours of my post suggesting that Time Warner Cable owed Dodger fans an apology for the TV blackout mess, which is preventing all but 30 percent of Los Angeles area residents from watching the team's games, I received a call from TWC's senior director of public relations for news & sports, Andrew Fegyveresi.

I declined his invitation to lunch, but suggested that if he wanted to respond, that I could do a follow-up piece, perhaps in the form of a Q & A. We worked with each other's schedules, kept it loose, and settled on an email interview, which follows.

L.A. Weekly: How are the negotiations going?
Fegyveresi: We're in discussions with other providers, but as has been reported, DirecTV has expressed no urgency in getting a deal done to bring SportsNet LA to their subscribers.

Did TWC pay too much?
We wouldn't have made this investment if we didn't believe it was in the best interest of our customers and shareholders. We have secured long-term access to popular content, and have created a 24/7 regional sports network that takes fans behind-the-scenes and provides an immersive experience with thousands of hours of exclusive Dodger programming, including access to more than 160 live game telecasts each season.

What happens if no one blinks and 70 percent of Southland households are blacked out of Dodgers' telecasts for the entire season, or even two seasons?
We can't predict the timing, but negotiations are active with providers. We will continue to work tirelessly to get it carried across the region.

What do you say to those who don't live in areas where switching to TWC is an option?
We are eager for all consumers in the Dodger footprint to have access to SportsNet LA and we hope that providers will come on board quickly, so fans don't miss any more Dodgers games and programming on SportsNet LA. We are working tirelessly to make that happen. We also encourage fans to contact their providers to let them know that the Dodgers are important to them. They can visit ineedmydodgers.com, call 844 I NEED MY or call their TV providers directly to let them know they want SportsNet LA.

Are the Dodgers or Major League Baseball involved in the various negotiations, and if not, why not?
Time Warner Cable handles distribution negotiations and agreements for SportsNet LA.

Why not offer one channel that has the Dodgers and the Lakers?
Time Warner Cable does not own the network. SportsNet LA is owned by the Los Angeles Dodgers through American Media Productions, LLC. The channel is solely dedicated to the Dodgers and provides an unprecedented amount of comprehensive, in-depth Dodger programming.

Can you understand why fans, already upset about being blacked out, would be further frustrated by your marketing campaign, and particular, with that kick-me-sign you call a Twitter feed?
We respectfully disagree with that assessment. We use our social media, like all broadcast and cable networks do, to promote our programming so that Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Champion Broadband customers know when to tune-in to games and other original programming on SportsNet LA.

We understand that Dodgers fans outside of the available footprint are frustrated with this situation, however, it is also our job to show providers who are considering carriage that there is great demand among their subscribers. It's important that fans who can't currently get SNLA know their voice matters and that it's important to tell their providers that they want the network.

What about that apology? Why not just use the two-word phrase, "we're sorry."
We are sorry that more fans don't have access to SportsNet LA. Our goal is to have full carriage for the network, and we hope that providers will come on board quickly. We are working hard to make that happen as we don't want fans to miss any more Dodgers games and programming.

I followed up with Andrew because I felt like his answers sounded like boilerplate PR, and asked the following questions.

1."Isn't this spin?"

2. "Do you get that Dodger fans don't want to hear about 'carriage' or 'footprint' or see the hashtag 'I need my Dodgers' one more time, and that all they want is for the deal to get done asap?"

3.  "Is this the apology you want to go with?"

Fegyveresi sugggested we speak on the phone and off the record. I asked for answers to my follow-up questions, taking a pass on the off-the-record part. He asked a second time to speak on the phone, I said yes, and we agreed to talk the following day (which was Wednesday).

I emailed Wednesday morning to schedule a conversation, which I said would be recorded and on the record. He said that he preferred to chat on the phone, and that he didn't have anything to add on the record. That's where we stand.

So if Time Warner Cable's apology works for you, fine. If not, I'm sorry. Actually, sincerely, sorry. Maybe I'll hear from another executive this afternoon and we can try this a third time. If so, I will work tirelessly to bring those answers to you, the 70 percent.

Either way, remember, glove conquers all.

See also: How I Told Time Warner to Take Their Cable Box and Shove It

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