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DirecTV CEO says he's open to mediation to resolve Dodgers TV dispute

DirecTV CEO Mike White thinks the Dodgers should be involved in any mediation talks regarding SportsNet LA

Satellite broadcaster DirecTV said it would be open to some sort of mediation to resolve its dispute with Time Warner Cable over carriage of SportsNet LA, the new local TV home for the Dodgers.

Speaking to analysts and investors during its second-quarter earnings conference call, DirecTV Chief Executive Mike White said he is "frustrated" with the negotiations with Time Warner Cable, which has distribution rights for the Dodgers-owned channel.

While White's remarks may be seen as cause for optimism for Dodgers fans, he also suggested that the team should be part of any talks.

"Without active participation of the Dodgers I'm not sure how you get any resolution to this dispute," White said. 

So far, the team has shown little interest in getting actively involved in the standoff. Time Warner Cable acquired distribution rights for SportsNet LA in a 25-year deal worth $8.35 billion, according to a valuation by the Dodgers and Major League Baseball.

Earlier this week, Dodgers President Stan Kasten declined to comment when asked if the team would consider renegotiating that contract if it meant getting distribution for SportsNet LA. Besides DirecTV, other carriers who have passed on carrying SportsNet LA include Dish Network, Cox Communications, Verizon FiOS and Charter Communications.

On Monday, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) wrote White and Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Rob Marcus encouraging the two companies to enter into binding arbitration to resolve the dispute. White said he appreciated the concern of Sherman and other lawmakers but did not commit to any sort of arbitration to resolve what he said is a "commercial dispute."

White noted that between the Dodgers deal and its earlier acquisition of TV rights for the Lakers, Time Warner Cable has created "stratospheric pricing" for sports in the Los Angeles market. 

Separately, White said DirecTV has agreed on a price to carry ESPN's SEC Network, a college sports channel which launches in August. DirecTV still does not have a final deal with ESPN parent Walt Disney Co., but White said he is optimistic the satellite service will be carrying it from day one.

Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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