Failed cable merger may keep Dodger fans in the dark

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Comcast and Time Warner Cable officially called off their planned $45 billion merger this morning in the face of skepticism from U.S. media regulators.

The question now in Southern California is how that decision will affect the long-running impasse over the Dodgers TV channel.

Dodger officials had said that the merger of the cable giants would smooth the way to a solution to the TV mess, which has kept about 70 percent of local households blacked out. But now that the merger has been nixed, some observers say fans can expect the stalemate to continue through the end of the current season.

For those keeping score at home, that would be two full seasons with no Dodger games on TV for most Angelenos.

Time-warner-cable_20110331220900Time Warner must now decide to whether to reduce its asking price for the Dodgers channel, SportsNet L.A.. That would probably force the company to write down a chunk of the $8 billion-plus the company is paying the team for exclusive TV rights. Right now, Time Warner is reportedly losing about $100 million a year because of its inability to sell the channel to other TV providers. The Dodgers have not indicated a willingness to renegotiate the deal.

comcast_logoTime Warner could also seek a new merger partner, which would start the clock over on the regulatory approval process. Meanwhile, another proposed merger – between actors in the Dodgers drama – DirecTV and ATT&T – is still pending.

On the field, the Dodgers started fast this season, only to see their momentum halted in a three-game sweep by the Giants this week. Most fans didn’t see the games, and it looks like those folks won’t be watching the Dodgers on TV for a while.