SBD/Issue 136/Sports Media

White Out: MLB To Address Blackout Issue At May Owners' Meeting

DuPuy Driving Blackout Issue That Will
Redraw MLB Team's Territorial-Rights Map
MLB blackout restrictions preventing viewers from watching games on TV and over the Internet "may be lifted as early as the 2009 season," according to Jeff Passan of YAHOO SPORTS. A source said that all 30 teams at the owners meetings next month are "expected to deliver reports outlining the territories in which they currently broadcast games or have concrete plans to in the future." Based on the reports, MLB will "redraw its territorial-rights map ... to better reflect the present broadcast landscape." A different source, however, indicated that some owners "were concerned about existing TV contracts and potential discord among advertisers who were promised certain territories covered." MLB President & COO Bob DuPuy, who at "last year's meetings took a hard-line stance on the blackouts," this year is the "catalyst behind MLB's sudden action." A source said that while it is "too late to implement the changes for this season," the league will try to put the changes into effect "before 2009, when it launches the Baseball Channel." Passan: "If nothing else, the re-written territorial-rights map could give teams incentive to actively pursue areas such as Iowa and Las Vegas and draw new fans instead of relying on what they inherited" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/6).

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