MASN's Newest Pitch

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Mid-Atlantic Sports Network sent its second proposal in a month to Comcast Corp. yesterday asking that the cable company offer the Washington Nationals games to its subscribers throughout the Baltimore-Washington region, a MASN spokesman confirmed.

"We sent a proposal to Comcast to carry MASN and Nationals games to its millions of subscribers in the region," said MASN spokesman Vince Wladika .

Comcast has declined to carry the MASN channel, including Nationals games, until it and MASN resolve their differences over Orioles telecasts. The cable company filed a lawsuit last month in Montgomery County accusing MASN of a breach of contract for allegedly planning to place the Orioles games on another MASN channel in 2007 without allowing Comcast SportsNet to match the offer.

A Comcast spokesman said yesterday that the new M ASN proposal will not change its position.

"The revised proposal does not acknowledge or compensate Comcast SportsNet for the clear breach of our legal rights," Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said. "Major League Baseball and the Baltimore Orioles need to deal with that fundamental reality."

MASN, jointly owned by Major League Baseball and the Orioles, controls the television territory in the Baltimore-Washington region. It already produces the Nationals games, which are carried on WDCA-20 in Washington. DirecTV also carries the MASN-produced Nationals games to its 1.3 million customers throughout the Baltimore-Washington region. Comcast carries Channel 20 in Washington, but it does not carry any other Nationals games.

"If this, as Comcast claims, is not about the Nationals, then why aren't their games on Comcast?" Wladika said.

Comcast SportsNet produces 87 Orioles games reaching 4.7 million homes from Pennsylvania to the North Carolina border. Comcast is the largest cable company in the U.S. with around 22 million subscribers.

"It is not our desire to keep the Nationals off television," Cohen said. "It is not our desire to hurt or anger the Nationals fans. But we are not the wrongdoer here."

-- Thomas Heath

© 2005 The Washington Post Company