Q. Why does Time Warner Cable black out coverage of all Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals baseball games on all channels it provides, including MLB, TBS, ESPN and all others? The Nats are in first place in the National League East. The Orioles are in second place in the American League East, their best showing since 1997. Both teams aren’t far away and many people in Southeastern North Carolina have ties to the mid-Atlantic region. But we can’t see those teams on Time Warner Cable. DirectTV carries Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, which broadcasts both teams’ games, but I, for one, can’t get DirectTV’s signal, owing to trees blocking the satellites’ beams. I assume MASN, controlled by Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos, is asking a rate that Time Warner thinks is too high, and is forcing Time Warner to black out games by those teams carried by any station in its packages. Is Time Warner considering taking on MASN, and if not, why not? Who’s to blame here, Time Warner, MASN, or both? What can be done? Help!
A. Major League Baseball has archaic territorial rules governing telecast that dates back to the 1960s. MLB considers Eastern North Carolina to be Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals territory. It means both teams have exclusive rights to games in this part of the state as far as the Triad and thus supersedes even national telecasts of those clubs on MLB Network, TBS and ESPN, leading to blackouts. Ironically, the same rule does not apply to Fox’s Saturday telecasts.
It is true Time Warner Cable is prohibited from showing the games because of its refusal to sign a carriage agreement with MASN. The dispute between Time Warner and MASN (The Mid-Atlantic Sports Networks) has gone before an independent arbitrator and Federal Communications Commission twice and each time TWC lost. But in May 2012, TWC won an appeal in the Fourth Circuit Court.
I side with MASN because TWC is depriving cable viewers access to their favorite teams. For example, when the Yankees, Red Sox and Braves play one of those teams, on cable you cannot see your favorite teams. With the season entering the home stretch, there are important series cable viewers may not be able to see. That is frustrating, I am sure.
I suggest you voice your displeasure to TWC or maybe get wireless Internet TV. I hope this was helpful.
Date posted: August 1, 2012
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