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O's sued by Comcast


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Comcast sues Orioles over TV rights

Posted: Thursday April 21, 2005 7:31PM; Updated: Thursday April 21, 2005 8:26PM

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Comcast SportsNet sued the Baltimore Orioles and the new Mid-Atlantic Sports Network on Thursday over television rights to Orioles games.


In a suit filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville, Comcast asks that the Orioles, MASN and major league baseball be prevented from negotiating or licensing local pay TV rights to Orioles games.


The Orioles and major league baseball agreed last month on a deal that will allow games involving the new Washington Nationals to be televised.


The Orioles and Nationals formed MASN, a joint venture backed by baseball, to allow fans in the Baltimore-Washington market to watch both teams.


Comcast SportsNet has local pay television rights to Orioles games through the 2006 season, according to the suit. The agreement also gives Comcast exclusive rights to negotiate an extension with the Orioles and the right to match any agreement reached with a third party.


The Orioles and baseball created MASN, a regional sports television network, to broadcast Nationals games this season and Orioles games starting in 2007, the suit says.


The suit says the Orioles have breached their contract with Comcast. It asks the court to stop the Orioles and baseball from negotiating license pay TV rights to Orioles games with any third party, and orders the Orioles to give Comcast the right to match any offer for the TV rights.


The suit also seeks unspecified compensatory damages.


Orioles owner Peter Angelos had fought the Montreal Expos' move to Washington, saying it would have a "profound adverse impact" on his team.


The right to televise the games had been the subject of almost daily, drawn-out negotiations between baseball and Angelos.


Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said Thursday, "We have not yet had a chance to review the pleadings and cannot comment on the substance of the claims, but we are obviously disappointed by the lawsuit. There have been discussions among Comcast, the Orioles and MASN. While we are hopeful those discussions can lead to a quick resolution of the issues among them, nothing in the litigation has any impact on the current television schedule of the Nationals or rights fees being paid to the Nationals."


The Orioles had no immediate comment Thursday night.


Nationals president Tony Tavares, who didn't know about the suit until he was asked about it by an Associated Press reporter, said Thursday, "I'm surprised that someone didn't give us the courtesy of a contact to let us know that this was coming. Other than that I just say my comment is this is disappointing. ... I have friends in these companies, and the action is disappointing."


Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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The only O's games MASN is picking up are the ones that were produced by O's TV and sold to local over-the-air network affiliates last year and were planned to before the Nats came to town. I don't see where Comcast has a case. Sounds like they are dragging their feet and unwilling to compromise their station's share of the market. No picking up MASN on their systems. No adding WDCA-UPN20 to systems in neighboring counties. No chance they become partners unless they get a larger say in the process. Not good for the Nats.

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