The shit hits the fans over the formation of MASN and the Orioles’ piece of the action, as covered by the Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker.
Orioles owner Peter Angelos lambasted Comcast Corp. for monopolistic practices and implored the cable giant to televise Washington Nationals games during a congressional hearing yesterday on the standoff that has left 1.3 million D.C.-area households unable to watch their home team.
In sometimes biting language, Angelos told the House Committee on Government Reform that he negotiated a reasonable compensation package when the Montreal Expos moved to Washington and that Comcast is refusing to do business with his Mid-Atlantic Sports Network because it fears competition for its Comcast SportsNet.
“That’s why they don’t like us,” Angelos said. “That’s why we’ve been castigated and vilified. Because we offer competition for them.”
He added that Comcast has been unwilling to negotiate on a distribution deal. “I urge you to put the pressure on,” he told the congressional panel. “They should put those games on right now.”
Comcast is refusing to carry games produced by Angelos’ MASN. Company officials argued yesterday that Major League Baseball made a bad deal in giving Angelos control of television rights for the competing Nationals. They said he’s demanding too much from Comcast to carry a network with no programming aside from Nationals games.
“Somebody has to say no,” said David L. Cohen, executive vice president for Comcast. “Enough is enough. It’s time to protect customers’ rights.”
He said the current deal will cripple the Nationals by funneling their cable revenues to Angelos. “You’re going to have a second-class franchise in a first-class city,” he said. “And somebody’s going to be standing around screaming, ‘How did this happen?”
Though the words “customers’ rights” and “Comcast” look very weird together, the ransom MLB essentially paid to Angelos seems unusually high.