Justice Department sues AT&T, alleging collusion to keep Dodgers games off of cable systems

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As you know, the Dodgers and Time Warner formed SportsNetLA a few years ago to broadcast Dodgers games and other sports. You also probably know that, because other cable systems have been loathe to carry it, many if not most Dodgers fans in southern California cannot see Dodgers games. The cable systems have long said that the Dodgers and Time Warner are asking too much money to carry the channel. Today the U.S. Justice Department said, nope, it’s an illegal conspiracy.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday took the extraordinary step of suing AT&T, alleging that its DirecTV television unit orchestrated an illegal campaign to block wide carriage of the television channel owned by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Justice Department accuses DirecTV of being the ringleader in a plot in which it coordinated with Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T, which was then separate from DirecTV, to refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodger-owned TV channel.

This is all pretty delicious. If the claims are proven, one can imagine a pretty hefty financial penalty being paid. Likewise, one could either see the Dodgers and Time Warner taking their own action against the alleged conspirators. The end result of it all, however, may not be completed litigation. It may very well be a settlement agreement — brokered with the help of government pressure, of course — that results in the Dodgers being seen on far more cable carriers in Los Angeles than they have been for the past several years.