MASN's N.C. Bid Boosted

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, the three-year old cable station that carries both the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles, won a significant victory yesterday that could spread the reach of those teams well south.

An independent arbitrator appointed by the Federal Communications Commission ruled that Time Warner Cable "deliberately discriminated" against MASN in not offering the regional sports network to all its customers in North Carolina.

"All of TWC's efforts went into figuring out ways to avoid putting MASN on the air," arbitrator Jerome Sussman wrote. Sussman added that Time Warner Cable's actions indicated it might have been trying to force MASN out of business so that it could carry Nationals and Orioles games on the cable channel it owns in the region, News 14 Carolina.

The case was the most significant hurdle in distributing Nationals and Orioles games to the majority of residents of North Carolina, an area from which both teams would like to draw fans. MASN and Time Warner Cable must now submit suggested terms of an agreement to Sussman, who will then determine which side makes the most reasonable offer.

MASN spokesman Todd Webster called the ruling a "resounding victory" and said MASN was "obviously pleased with this result." A Time Warner Cable spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.

-- Barry Svrluga

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