Wheeler to Meet with Rep. Cárdenas Over TWC/Dodgers Letter

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is meeting with Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) Tuesday afternoon, prompted by Cárdenas' letter last week asking the FCC to mediate the carriage dispute between Time Warner Cable and various distributors over carriage of SportsNet LA and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Time Warner Cable launched SportsNet LA in February, but a number of distributors complained about the price — some reports put is as high as $4 per sub per month — especially when combined with three other RSNs in the market (Prime Ticket, Fox Sports LA and Time Warner Cable SportsNet) and aren't taking the network.

In the letter to Wheeler, Cárdenas along with seven other House Democrats, said they were increasingly concerned about the absence of the net on Cox, Charter, Suddenlink, Dish, DirecTV, FiOS (Verizon) and U-verse (AT&T).

At the Minority Media & Telecommunications Conference, Cárdenas said he was sorry Wheeler had only been able to appear via video, but said he had to leave to talk to Wheeler on the phone.

He said after he wrote the letter, Wheeler called him and asked to talk. He suggested the carriage fight was a "subset" of larger media consolidation battles, and that this would not be the last of what he hoped would be "respectful, cordial and overdue conversations."

Cárdenas took aim in his speech at culturally sensitive ads that don't make sense because they are not coming from the actual culture. He also alluded to MSNBC's culturally insenstive Cinco de Mayo segment featuring a correspondent in a sombrero drinking tequila, calling it an atrocity. MSNBC apologized, but Cárdenas said what was needed was action, not apologies, action in hiring the best people for the job no matter what color they are.

He said vertically integrated companies may not realize diversity is something that needs to permeate their organizations.

Cárdenas said he is a big backer of MMTC—110% was his figure—and that if they ever needed his help, just ask.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.