Dog on dog retransmission turmoil in San Jose


Fans of the National Hockey League San Jose Sharks who also happen to be DISH Network subscribers will have to find alternate means of watching the team’s games on TV – and on this occasion, fans of bringing an impartial referee into the dispute will be dismayed to learn that the failure comes despite the fact that the parties submitted to arbitration.

The dispute pitted satellite service DISH Network against cable giant Comcast. In this case, the bone of contention was Comcast SportsNet California (CSNCA), which carries the Sharks at the moment and also has rights to Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the two sides presented their cases to an FCC arbitrator, and CSNCA prevailed. But rather than accept that, DISH elected to drop the channel from its lineup.

SJMN quoted a statement from CSNCA, which commented, “We hope that Dish will quickly realize that refusing to accept the arbitration decision is detrimental to consumers, and restore Comcast SportsNet California under the contract decided by the arbitrator.”

The regional sports network is available on Comcast cable systems, as well as on DISH satellite rival DirecTV and telco MVPD service AT&T U-verse.

RBR-TVBR observation: MVPDs of all stripes have been asking Congress and the FCC to intervene in the retransmission negotiation process when it comes to broadcasters, but another disruption in program delivery pitting a cable company against a satellite company begs the question: Who do the MVPDs want to save them from themselves?

And if arbitration is a key desire, and it fails in an MVPD-on-MVPD dispute, what’s the point? “We demand arbitration! Unless of course, we don’t like the ruling.”

Washington, please take note: In a dispute that does not involve broadcasters in any way whatsoever, one of the parties that has petitioned you to step into a free market business negotiation has boldly gone forward and planted its flag at the very pinnacle of Mount Hypocrisy. DISH has proven that the government intervention solution is no solution at all, making it a no-brainer to simply leave free market negotiations in place.