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ACA: New Dodgers Owners Must Expect Higher TV Sports Rights Fees To Justify Record Price For Club

PITTSBURGH, March 29, 2012 - American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement in response to reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers sold for a record $2.15 billion:

"As news reports have made plain, the Dodgers new ownership group must believe it can obtain significantly more money for the rights to televise Dodger games in the future than the team receives today.  According to the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers could create their own regional sports network (RSN) or complete a new long-term TV rights deal worth between $200 million and $300 million annually -- compared to $38 million this year - with an overall price tag of $4 billion.  In either case, consumers of cable and satellite TV can expect to see their monthly bills continue to move higher.

"Across America -- not just in L.A. -- the fundamental problem is that programmers refuse to give pay-TV operators the flexibility to provide customers with absolutely zero interest in sports - who are, after all, the majority of viewers - the right to bypass expensive sports channels that are driving up their pay-TV bills.

"The inability to provide an opt-out remedy is also true with regard to local TV stations, especially the affiliates of CBS, NBC and FOX, which are demanding higher and higher carriage fees from pay-TV providers to help their parent networks pay the $27 billion owed the National Football League under new TV rights packages announced last December.

"The L.A. Times also reported that the wholesale price alone for sports TV programming in the L.A. market is fast approaching $14.40 a month for each subscriber. For some context, the Federal Communications Commission's most recent cable rate survey stated that cable subscribers pay between $49.51 and $54.44 on average nationally for the expanded basic programming package that includes regional sports channels and such national brands as USA Network, TBS, Fox News Channel, ESPN and MTV.

"In a related development, Bloomberg News reported that News Corp. is planning on launching a national U.S. sports channel to rival ESPN, the most expensive channel on expanded basic at about $5 a month. More competition among programmers to acquire national sports rights will drive up the costs of these rights, and, as night follows day, these costs will be passed through to nearly all consumers because powerful programmers deny cable operators the flexibility to design packages aimed at sports-viewing consumers.

"It wouldn't take much to give consumers a break. How about giving cable and satellite providers the option of offering expensive networks that include sports on a separate tier?  This could inject badly needed discipline into a market that just seems to slam consumers with runaway sports programming costs."

About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing about 850 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7.4 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America.  Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business.  For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/

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