SBD/April 1, 2011/MLB Season Preview

YES Network, DirecTV Face Friday Deadline For Renewal Of Carriage Deal

Tigers-Yankees game on Sunday is scheduled to air on YES Network
While SportsNet N.Y. and Dish Network are "negotiating for a renewal of a carriage deal" that was set to expire at midnight Thursday night, YES Network and DirecTV are "doing the same while facing" a Friday deadline, according to CABLEFAX DAILY. YES "has run an on-air spot alerting customers to a potential blackout on DirecTV, addresses the situation on its Website and has had its on-air talent mention the matter as well." DirecTV "stressed that it plans to keep YES on its lineup during negotiations and said to blame the net if darkness occurs, statements about which the net had no comment." Dish has never distributed YES. Meanwhile, there was no word from either Dish or SNY "concerning their own talks, and from both YES and MSG about any ongoing negotiations with Dish." MSG and MSG Plus "have been dark on Dish since Oct 1" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 4/1). Saturday's Tigers-Yankees game will air on Fox, but Sunday's matchup is on YES (NEWSDAY, 4/1). In Albany, Pete Dougherty wrote DirecTV "generally has a good track record in negotiations with sports networks ... but this one will be tricky." Dougherty: "While I try to stay optimistic that this dispute won't get to the point where YES gets pulled off the air, you can tell by the comments on the blog that people are not happy about recent price increases from DirecTV. The YES demands could create another rise in costs" (TIMESUNION.com, 3/31).

NO CALLS TO KEEP QUIET: Mets TV play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen said he does not feel "one iota of pressure" about broadcasting the team's games this season on SportsNet N.Y. amid the ongoing off-field issues facing the team. Cohen: "I don't think it will be different for me at all. I'm a baseball broadcaster and we're going to be broadcasting a season of baseball beginning Friday night." In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes Cohen is "not oblivious to what's going on with the Wilpons," as he "outlined the Madoff situation early in the first spring training broadcast on SNY." The situation also was "discussed during subsequent spring training telecasts." Cohen said of his broadcast partners Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling, "We have no muzzles on us. All three of us feel free to express opinions on what we feel strongly about. The problem here is you're talking about a subject we don't have any expertise in." Raissman writes viewers during SNY's coverage of Friday's Mets-Marlins game can "expect Cohen to present an overview of ownership's financial situation and all relevant developments." Raissman: "There will be more questions as the days of this season pass and spring turns into summer. The only certainty here is that the story of the Wilpons, Madoff and Irving Picard ain't going away anytime soon" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/1).

NO PROGRESS ON PADRES PICK-UP: In San Diego, Mike Freeman notes some Padres fans are "frustrated that cable's monopoly on carrying the games locally remains in place despite 10 months of negotiations between Cox Communications and rival pay TV providers." Cox is "in the final year of a 10-year exclusive TV rights deal with the ballclub in San Diego County," and the MSO broadcasts 140-145 games annually on Channel 4 San Diego. Cox "licenses Channel 4 to Time Warner Cable and a few other small cable systems who aren't direct competitors," but "for years it refused to provide the content to head-to-head rivals DirecTV, Dish Network and AT&T U-Verse." Regulators last year "closed the loophole" that allowed that to happen, and Cox "announced in June that it would enter talks with DirecTV, Dish and AT&T." But "since then, most involved have been mum about the talks." Local subscribers to AT&T's U-Verse and satellite TV services "had gotten their hopes up that a deal would be reached by opening day," but now they "feel let down" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/1).
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