Charter subscribers to have Dodgers’ SportsNet LA by Tuesday — at no additional charge

The purported 300,000 subscribers of Charter Communications cable service in Southern California will have access to the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. channel beginning Tuesday at no additional charge, the company and the team said Thursday morning.

241-6026The move that affects Charter subscribers —  the bulk of which in Southern California make up parts of Long Beach, Pasadena, the West Covina and some of the San Gabriel Valley, Glendale/Burbank, San Bernardino and much of the Inland Empire, Malibu and other parts of L.A. County– also allows residents of those areas who have DirecTV, Dish, AT&T Uverse or Verizon FIOS to change providers if they want access to the Dodgers-owned channel that launched in February, 2014. To date, it has only been available to Time Warner Cable subscribers as well as a small pocket of Bright House and Champion Broadband in the San Gabriel Valley.

SportsNet LA will on Charter’s Channel 44 for standard-def and Channel 789 for high def in the L.A. market. Because the Dodgers’ territorial rights expand to parts outside of Southern California, it will also be on Charter’s systems in San Luis Obispo and Porterville. The SportsNet LA Spanish-language telecast as well as secondary audio that has Korean language service is also included.

“The Dodgers are an iconic franchise and part of the fabric of the community,” said Tom Rutledge, President and CEO of Charter Communications, in a statement.  “We are very excited to be bringing the Dodgers back to Charter customers in the L.A. area.”

On May 26, it was announced that Charter would seek approval to buy out Time Warner Cable in a $55-billion merger, and a promise was given that Charter customers would begin to get the Dodgers channel while the government approval began. No date was given at that time.

The fact that Charter customers will receive SportsNet LA immediately at no extra charge, as confirmed by a Charter spokesman on Thursday, is an about-face change in recent negotiations, brought on by the merger talks.

Before these merger talks began, however, Charter had dug in against Time Warner Cable, along with DirecTV and many other competitors, claiming the reported $5 per subscriber fee was too high and it did not want to pass that on to its customers who were not interested in having that channel added to their system. TWC, as well as DirecTV, have recently added surcharges to customer bills to augment the costs the companies have incurred for sports-related channels that have higher monthly fees based on rising rights fees involved in the negotiation of those deals.

The Dodgers’ deal with Time Warner Cable was reported in early 2013 to be a 25-year contract that will bring the team some $8.35 billion over that period. TWC outbid previous Dodgers’ rights holder, Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket.

The Charter launch on Tuesday will have Vin Scully calling the Dodgers’ home game against Arizona at 7:10 p.m.

Meanwhile, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) took the opportunity to issue a statement again requesting binding arbitration for DirecTV and other cable and dish companies that have yet to accept the Time Warner Cable parameters to adding SportsNet LA.

“I am pleased that Charter Communications will begin carrying SportNet LA, but the work is not done yet,” he said. “Too many Angelenos still won’t have access to the Dodgers because of a 14 month dispute between cable companies over how to provide Los Angeles residents with access to Los Angeles Dodgers television broadcasts.

“I am reissuing an earlier request for Time Warner Cable into enter binding arbitration with DirecTV and others. This would be a fair and fast way to return programming to consumers. Time Warner Cable has agreed to enter into the arbitration process. They have offered to make SportsNet LA available immediately to all fans upon the initiation of binding arbitration. Immediate binding arbitration is the only mechanism that will get the Dodgers games on the air now.”

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Circling back to the ESPN/’Homeless’ Rams players piece on Sunday … a tear-filled bravo

Rams DEs William Hayes and Chris Long went undercover to raise awareness of a life most people ignore. (Courtesy of St. Louis Rams)

Rams DEs William Hayes and Chris Long went undercover to raise awareness of a life most people ignore. (Courtesy of St. Louis Rams)

Without a lot of real context to what was going on here — other than trusting an ESPN press release and a few photos — my blog post last week prior to the airing of Sunday’s “Life on the Streets” piece involving the St. Louis Rams’ Chris Long and William Hayes had many concerns about the intent and end-game for two NFL players pretending to be homeless and mixing it up with a community that may not take well to their “experiment.”
My opinion completely needs a re-write after having watched the nearly seven-minute story, as well as read the accompanying piece by ESPN.com’s Elizabeth Merrill (with the video included).
Yes, the “power of sports,” even as an advertised slogan for a series, can work. Here’s why:
The story was not about a game these two were playing.
“I wonder if we could handle that,” Hayes once told Long as they were on a bus and passed by a homeless encampment.
I’ve wondered that plenty of times myself. I doubt I could. My mind would break down quickly. My will to survive would be crushed. I could see myself not using the situation as motivation to move forward, but to accept this fate.
I’ve tried this, alone, just for an afternoon. It’s self-defeating. But its also a powerful awakening.
With more background, we learn that these two have been donating to a local St. Louis homeless shelter, and Long was almost embarrassed he had never visited it as much as Hayes did.
Long’s narrative was touching, crediting Hayes for shining the light on this and showing empathy. You need a teammate to bring you along. It’s a tough go alone.
Bravely, Long and Hayes had not only the desire to go try it, if only for 24 hours, but come away with an action that spoke louder than their words — finding some temporary housing for a man and a woman who just needed to try to get their dignity back.
Yes, they did have an escape plan if things went wrong. They weren’t stupid. They also had the prep with the social worker who ran the shelter. She was with them the whole way.
Despite preconceived concerns, this finished product can definitely be not just a starting point, but a call to action. That if it takes these two men in the sports world to step up and do something that puts a voice and face on something so tragic, something that most take so much for granted, we’ll back it 100 percent.
Web-DorothyDayPOster-5x6.667There’s a famous quote attributed to The Catholic Worker saint Dorothy Day (even if she may have never said it):
“Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”
If Long and Hayes accepted it before in some way, or accepted the idea that their donations were a great place to start but really that’s all they could do, then they just raised the bar on awareness about a system that’s not just broken, but can be fixed if enough raise their hand.
If only we knew more before we went and wrote that first post. Maybe it’s like looking at a homeless person on the street and making a judgment without  having all the facts, or circumstances, or thoughts of some redemption. You have to ask politely if you can share the space, talk to those hurting, and find out what they need, not just what you think they need to “fix” it. Long and Hayes did that.
A huge thumbs up to not only putting their NFL paychecks to a worthy cause, but causing the rest of us to think harder about what we can do as well.
Do you think you live in an area without a homeless issue? It’s not just downtown.  The homeless count is rising. Shelters aren’t there. More transitional housing is going away.
Locally, there are groups trying to help. Check out Family Promise, for one. The South Bay Coalition to end Homelessness. The San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission.
Learn about how things work. Give your time. Be in the moment.
Should the former L.A. Rams relocate back to the City of Angels, and Long and Hayes comes along for the ride, we’d love to be there to help take a tour of Skid Row, meet the people and listen to their cries for help.

Also:
== A follow up by ESPN writer Nick Wagoner

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