Comcast said yesterday it is not discriminating against a regional sports network owned by the Baltimore Orioles, saying it will not carry the Baltimore club's network because the team is in violation of a television contract with Comcast.
Orioles owner Peter Angelos "has created a network that is built on a breach of contract with Comcast," the company said in a news release accompanying a document filed with the Federal Communications Commission. "In playing this game, Mr. Angelos has knowingly and consciously created a circumstance that would limit the television distribution of Washington Nationals games."
The Orioles filed a complaint with the FCC last month, asking the agency to require Comcast to carry Washington Nationals games on its network. In a complicated arrangement with baseball, the Orioles pay the Nationals $20 million a year for the rights to televise their games on an Orioles-owned network. Comcast will not carry the network on its cable channels.
"Comcast is a monopolist seeking to demonize and to crush a rival regional sports network that had the temerity to outnegotiate it for the rights to televise the Nationals' games," said David Frederick, an attorney for the Orioles.
Comcast's filing is the latest salvo in the television war between the Philadelphia cable company and the Orioles, who own the fledgling Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. The network televises the Nationals' games and plans to take back the Orioles' games after the Baltimore club's contract with Comcast expires after the 2006 season.
-- Thomas Heath