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Dodgers, Baseball Dispute on-Demand

August 12, 2006|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

The launching this week of a video-on-demand channel by the Dodgers and Time Warner Cable has triggered a dispute between the team and Major League Baseball.

In question is: Did the Dodgers have the right to establish such a channel with a cable company?

According to an e-mail sent to all major league clubs Friday by Bob DuPuy, chief operating officer of Major League Baseball, they did not.

A copy of DuPuy's e-mail, obtained by The Times, said cable and satellite video on demand is still under review.

"That is why when clubs have submitted local broadcast agreements for review," the e-mail read, "the question of VOD has been put on hold."

MLB, through an advance media division established in 2000, controls all of the team websites and other "interactive media."

As to whether a video-on-demand channel such as "Dodgers on Demand" is defined as interactive media is the crux of the dispute.

Despite MLB's stance, the Dodgers and Time Warner Cable, a team sponsor, will continue offering the VOD channel, Dodgers spokeswoman Camille Johnston said Friday.

When questioned further about the dispute, Johnston said in a written statement, "We launched the Dodgers on Demand video library with our sponsor Time Warner Cable to give Los Angeles Dodgers fans greater access to the team and its history. We believe we are well within are local club rights to launch Dodgers on Demand."

The channel offers taped interviews, features and archival material. It is available free, but only to Time Warner digital customers in the L.A. market.

DuPuy's e-mail said that until the issue can be clarified, "no such VOD rights" can be issued by any club.

Rich Levin, the head of media relations for MLB, would say only, "We are reviewing the situation."

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