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.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles, the Justice Department accused DirecTV of being a ringleader in an effort to make sure that three other pay-TV companies — Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T (which was then separate from DirecTV) -- would refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodger-owned TV channel.
The lawsuit alleges that the four companies engaged in illegal conduct, sharing nonpublic information among themselves, to gain bargaining leverage in negotiations with Time Warner Cable, which was struggling to get the pay TV companies to sign up for the channel.
DirecTV, now owned by AT&T, and Cox Communications have refused to carry the channel, citing its high cost.
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