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Comcast and MASN “struck a deal to end the dispute that has left 1.6 million people in the metropolitan [DC] area unable to watch most” Nationals games, according to Tim Lemke of the WASHINGTON TIMES. Financial terms were not disclosed, but a source said that MASN “agreed to lower its price for carriage” by 5%. MASN is “expected to be available on Comcast cable systems in the Washington and Baltimore areas” by September 1. The deal also applies to subscribers in Salisbury, Maryland, and 600,000 subscribers in Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina will receive the network “over the next two years.” The announcement came about a week after the FCC gave MASN the right to select an outside arbitrator to help end the dispute. Each side has agreed to drop any legal complaints against the other (WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/5). MASN will be carried on expanded basic on Comcast systems (THE DAILY). A source close to Comcast said that the September 1 date “might slip because the company has to give notice to channels it bumps to make space” for MASN (WASHINGTON POST, 8/5).
THE IMPORTANCE OF DEADLINES: In Baltimore, Childs Walker noted the FCC had “ordered the sides to go to arbitration to reach a deal, and MASN faced a filing deadline in that process” on Friday. A source said that the deadline “hastened negotiations.” Orioles counsel Alan Rifkin: “If we were to go forward with the FCC complaint, then many of the issues around Comcast would be brought to the public attention, and I don’t know that they really wanted that” (Baltimore SUN, 8/5). FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell: “It’s always helpful to give parties deadlines.” (WASHINGTON POST, 8/5).
Robinson Says Deal Will
Help Team Increase Fan Base
MLS Nets Its First Rights Fee Under
Eight-Year Deal With ESPN/ABC
NBC Lands 7.0/12 Overnight Nielsen
Rating For Its First NFL Game Since ‘98
NICE RETURN: In Ft. Worth, Ray Buck reviews the Raiders-Eagles telecast and writes NBC “gives the show a clean look. The visuals are uncluttered. The graphics are simple and easy to read.” While the net went “a bit overboard self-promoting” the story of John Madden’s HOF induction, it reflected “more on the network than the analyst, who handled it well” (STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/7).
FIELD POSITION: In Charlotte, David Poole writes NBC “barely acknowledged what happened in two wrecks on the final lap” of the Allstate 400. The net did “squeeze in Jimmie Johnson’s victory interview before switching to a meaningless preview of a meaningless [NFL] exhibition.” Poole: “Do you think this year’s Chase for the Nextel Cup is going to be much more than a 10-week promo for the network’s new baby or what?” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/7).
“Talladega Nights” Passes Analysts’
Expectations For Opening Weekend
DirecTV and EchoStar are “seeing a sharp slowdown in the number of new subscribers” as the cable-TV industry, after “years of seeing satellite steal market share and customers, ... is regaining ground,” according to a front-page piece by Angwin & Pasztor of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. In the last year, gains by the two satellite services “have shrunk to half of what they were during the industry’s heyday early in this decade, and they are projected to decline further.” Meanwhile, cable companies like Time Warner and Cablevision are “wooing customers by providing video, telephone and high-speed Internet services in an attractively priced ‘triple play’ bundle.” EchoStar CEO Charles Ergen earlier this year said cable’s offerings are “stealing good customers away from us.” Angwin & Pasztor noted DirecTV and EchoStar have “teamed up with phone companies to offer high-speed Internet access,” but those partnerships “are fraying now that the phone companies are ramping up their own competing television products.” Subscription services “now can reach most of the nation’s 110 million households.” Around 66.5 million homes have cable and 27 million use satellite. Harris Associates analyst Kurt Funderburg, whose company owns shares in both DirecTV and EchoStar, said, “If there’s no merger, it’s a tough row for them to hoe.” DirecTV investor Morris Mark sold his entire 420,000-share stake in the company in the past few months “because he is so pessimistic about the sector” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/5).
Time Warner Cable “invited about 40 football-related bloggers in various markets ... to participate in a conference call” concerning its carriage dispute with NFL Network. The Jets Blog operator Brian Bassett said, “I started doing this for fun, but when a multibillion dollar organization wants your help mobilizing a grassroots campaign against some policies by the NFL Network, it makes you think that this isn’t just a hobby anymore.” But Endzoner.com wrote, “I feel like these guys are unable to comment with any sort of candor, since they’re actively engaged in negotiations with the NFL.” Trade and consumer reporters were not invited to the call (CABLEFAX DAILY, 8/7). Deadspin.com editor Will Leitch was also invited on the call, but said, “I really don't need to sit on a conference call for a half hour, asking questions that, in such a canned setting, I'm not going to get an even slightly interesting answer to” (THE DAILY).
YES OR NO? In N.Y., Bob Raissman reported YES Network’s deal to simulcast WFAN-AM’s “Mike & the Mad Dog” expires at the end of the year, and there are “two schools of thought about the future” of the relationship. If YES “can cut a financial deal that makes sense, they will continue the simulcast.” But Chris Russo’s contentious interview with Yankees GM Brian Cashman, “could be the last straw,” as some Yankees execs “are tired of Russo’s anti-Yankee rants.” YES pays WFAN $800,000 for the simulcast (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/6).
Fox Exec Says Net Is Happy
With Status Quo Of BCS
BROWNS’ NEW TOWN: In Cleveland, Roger Brown reports FSN Ohio, after “months of relative inactivity, ... has made some impressive moves to replace the loss of Indians ballgames to SportsTime Ohio.” FSN Ohio signed a cable-rights deal with the Browns, extended its current deal with the Cavaliers and inked a deal with the Mid-American Conference. FSN Ohio GM Steve Liverani said of the Browns deal, “We’re going to have unbelievable behind-the-scenes access” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/7).