Illustratio: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

New York State Attorney General Letitia James has joined a growing group of critics in calling on cable and satellite TV providers to rebate pay-TV fees to consumers.

Why it matters: Her argument is that consumers shouldn't have to pay the same amount for cable and satellite packages, which include expensive sports networks, when those sports networks aren't carrying any live sports.

What she's saying: In letters to seven of the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S., James has requested that the companies "immediately prepare and provide plans to the attorney general's office for how they will provide financial relief to consumers until live sports programming is resumed."

"At a time when so many New Yorkers have lost their jobs and are struggling, it is grossly unfair that cable and satellite television providers would continue to charge fees for services they are not even providing."
— New York AG Letitia James

The state of play: James' statement has elevated the fight between cable/satellite carriers and sports networks over whether networks should be able to demand the same distribution rights fees for less live sports programming.

  • On Tuesday, the New York Post reported that Dish is looking to get out of the $80-$100 million distribution fee it owns ESPN for April broadcasting rights.

By the numbers: The average monthly cable or satellite package in the U.S. is roughly $100, with sports accounting for roughly 20% of that fee.

  • The top 10 most expensive cable affiliate fees in the U.S. are all sports channels — mostly regional sports networks — with ESPN being by far the most expensive at roughly $8 monthly.

Our thought bubble: When people pay their monthly TV bills, their money goes to distributors, like AT&T, which in turn pay networks, like ESPN, which in turn pay sports leagues for broadcast rights.

  • With live sports on hold, that chain is currently broken — and the battle over who should foot the bill has begun.
  • On top of that, these sports-less times could result in consumers gaining a better understanding what they're paying for sports programming (which is currently mostly re-runs) — something that could result in more cord-cutting.

Go deeper: The sports streaming landscape, mapped

Go deeper

LeBron James on Trump NBA protest remarks: "We could care less"

The Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James kneels during the national anthem before the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Wednesday. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

LeBron James responded on Wednesday night to President Trump's comments calling NBA players "disgraceful" for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and that he won't watch games if they knelt.

The big picture: Trump has repeatedly criticized sports players for taking the knee since 2016. But James said during a news conference, "I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership, him viewing the game." November's elections marked "a big moment for us as Americans," he said. "If we continue to talk about, 'We want better, we want change,' we have an opportunity to do that," he added. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the league will "respect peaceful protest."

Go deeper: LeBron James forms voting rights group to inspire Black voters

Updated 18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court denies Pennsylvania GOP request to limit mail-in voting

Protesters outside Supreme Court. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday denied a request from Pennsylvania's Republican Party to shorten the deadlines for mail-in ballots in the state. Thanks to the court's 4-4 deadlock, ballots can be counted for several days after Election Day.

Why it matters: It's a major win for Democrats that could decide the fate of thousands of ballots in a crucial swing state that President Trump won in 2016. The court's decision may signal how it would deal with similar election-related litigation in other states.

Microphones will be muted during parts of Thursday's presidential debate

Photos: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Commission on Presidential Debates adopted new rules on Monday to mute microphones to allow President Trump and Joe Biden two minutes of uninterrupted time per segment during Thursday night's debate, AP reports.

Why it matters: In the September debate, Trump interrupted Biden 71 times, compared with Biden's 22 interruptions of Trump.

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