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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

38 mins ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

Texas AG sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to members of the media in 2016. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and he's asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.

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