Business

Time Warner Ordered to Carry Sports Network

Posted January 21, 2008

— An arbitrator has ordered Time Warner Cable to offer a regional sports network that carries Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals baseball games to all of its cable subscribers in North Carolina.

The ruling was a "resounding victory" for Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, spokesman Todd Webster said Monday. MASN and its parent, TCR Sports Broadcasting, waged a high-profile battle with Time Warner for months to get the network onto the cable system's basic tier of service so the programming could be seen by more people. MASN carried four East Carolina football games in the 2007 season.

Time Warner has maintained that it would be unfair to impose the cost of acquiring MASN programming on all customers because interest in the games is low. Instead, the company offered to carry MASN on a digital channel.

In addition to Orioles and Nationals games, the network carries more than 200 football, basketball and lacrosse games involving North Carolina universities, officials have said.

Jerome Sussman, an arbitrator appointed by the Federal Communications Commission, ruled that Time Warner offers its own sports channel and other sports networks to a wider audience than the one it offered to MASN. He said the company had "both motive and opportunity to discriminate" against MASN, noting Time Warner could pick up the rights to the baseball games and other events now offered by the network if MASN were forced out of business.

“The conclusion that Time Warner deliberately discriminated against MASN is inescapable from the documents and testimony,” Sussman wrote in a five-page ruling. “All of (Time Warner's) efforts went into figuring out ways to avoid putting MASN on the air.”

Sussman is reviewing offers made by the two sides to put the network on the cable system and determine which represents a fair market value for the transaction.

57 Comments

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  • AngelEyes Jan 22, 3:35 p.m.

    If I have an increase in my cable bill to add this channel, I will be cancelling this service and looking for another option!!

  • tarheelalum Jan 22, 2:43 p.m.

    I personally like TWC Digipic 1000 the best...it's the lowest level that still allows you to get the DVR service. I've had Dish and DirectTV and neither compared to the level of service I have with the digital cable. With satellite you have to pay for Tivo in addition to their service if you want it. Even if you don't care about tivo/dvd, I would say digital cable is still better.

  • Yelena Jan 22, 1:13 p.m.

    I'm for al la carte cable chanels. Let me pay only for the 4 stations I actualy watch.

  • Unfair Moderators Stink Jan 22, 12:27 p.m.

    cuteboyd : We switched to DirectTV in December for television and AT&T (they partner somehow) for home phone, cell phone and Extreme DSL. So far we have zero complaints. Check Sunday's paper for any adds with that week's rebate and pricing incentives to switch to DirectTV -- it changes every week or so.

  • Nobody but Carolina Jan 22, 12:14 p.m.

    Both Satellite services are comparable; reception and customer service wise. The only real difference is you can get NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV but not on Dish Network.

  • cuteboyd Jan 22, 11:47 a.m.

    I could care less as long as TWC doesn't increase the rates. Those of you with satellite....which is better? Dish or Direct TV? I'm thinking about switching anyway.

  • wa4mjf Jan 22, 11:43 a.m.

    I have basic from TWC and it is 24 channels. I guess they

    would have to take away one of the shopping channels. Let's

    see there are 8 or 9 OTA must carries, 2 or 3 local guvment

    must carries, News 14, WGN, a NCSU channel (I think) and

    the rest are shopping channels. So if this MASN becomes

    must carry, I guess one of the shopping channels must go.

    The one that is OTA wil stay, from Wilson, I believe.

    I really don't see the fuss.

  • Phrostbite Jan 22, 11:35 a.m.

    "Keep in mind all the legal expenses incurred by TW in fighting this will have to be passed along to its customers, including those like me who couldn't care less about watching Baltimore or Washington sports."

    EXACTLY, & as a Pirate, if I want to see ECU football...guess what, I go straight to the Emerald City!

  • foetine Jan 22, 10:28 a.m.

    MASN should be an optional digital tier like the NBA Network and those lame regional Fox Sports channels that can't show their major programming in our market. But Angelos must know that there will only be a dozen fans willing to pay extra so see his team battle Tampa for the basement. I hate how a New York lawyer gets to stick us with the Orioles - just another reason to hate the Yankees.

  • Slip Kid Jan 22, 9:59 a.m.

    This highlights 'The Slippery Slope", folks!

    1) Monopolies that are unresponsive to supply & demand (free enterprise)

    2) Government dictating private business practices.

    So when do we start turning to 'the government' to correct all our personal choices, hunh? Remember, voting for more government control means LESS freedom for EVERYBODY.

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