Nats TV--This is the Week!

Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner, a noted radio and TV industry insider, was kind enough to give Capitol Dugout a sneak peek at his upcoming Examiner column about the status of the one piece of the puzzle that has to get into place for the Nationals.

Nats TV Battle Coming Down to the Wire

By: Jim Williams

The Examiner


This is the week that we can expect something to break on the Nationals TV front. I have been working the phones all weekend and to say Major League Baseball is frustrated with O's boss Peter Angelos is an understatement! Some owners have voiced an interest in having MLB walk away from the deal and telling Angelos to sue them! However, frustration while high is not likely to surface if MLB thinks they can get a deal done on compensation.

My sources close to Major League Baseball told me that MLB is working very hard to finalize the new regional cable network (RSN) between the Nationals – Orioles and either Fox Sport Net or Comcast SportsNet. The orders have gone out from the highest offices in baseball to get the deal done! That means MLB would like to split the TV section out of the compensation plan, for now and get that done so the Nationals can be on TV. They would then continue the rest of the compensation talks after the RSN deal is in place.

It has become clear that Angelos will not allow the Nationals to do a one year deal of their own. Instead he is steadfastly holding on to the notion that this must be a shared market (something we have been reporting for well over a month!) and that both the O's and Nats have an equal number of games on the newly formed RSN. (Again, something we have been reporting for over a month!)

If the deal does not get done by Friday then the season opener for the Nationals against the Phillies on April 4th is in jeopardy of not being seen.

People in both the ad business and TV programming have told me that the O's dragging their feet and not getting a deal done with MLB has killed the Nationals TV for 2005 in many ways.

From the sponsorship side budgets for baseball have been spent months ago meaning that while no doubt there will local businesses that want to be part of Nats TV it will be hard to figure out what an ad spot will cost since there is no network in place.

On the programming side sources have told me that even if WB 50 or UPN 20 wanted to carry the Nationals they would have to make some significant changes to their schedules.

You see TV schedules are made up months in advance and ads are sold for those programs so to alter the schedules to fit the Nationals in would be tough at this time. Not impossible mind you but very tough because of prior program, network and advertising commitments.

CSN could work out a schedule for the Nats and my guess is that somewhere in their Bethesda offices they even have a master Nationals TV schedule to be activated should they be allowed to do the games by "King Peter."

The O's took out an AD in the Sunday edition of the Washington Post saying that the Post (and the Examiner) got the whole thing wrong! Indeed the O's want the Nationals to be part of THEIR network!

Thanks King Peter you are a real pal!

The ad stated that when Angelos bought the team the rights to Washington and all points south belonged to the Orioles. That is just plain not true! A check of the ownership papers shows that the O's territory ends around Columbia. He has gotten the DC, northern Virginia markets for free because there has not been a team in the DC area.

Also in the ad the Orioles point out that they established their own network as the foundation to service the entire territory. Well, O's TV has been producing the broadcast (non CSN games) for three years but as for a RSN of the O's own that would be a hard sell. You see they would have to work with cable companies to clear a channel for just the Orioles and to do that they would have to deal with the major cable owner in the region.

Want to guess who that is?

Comcast!

Comcast still has the O's rights through 2006 and trust me they won't let them out of any deal unless Comcast SportNet is a partner.

Finally the ad states that the O's are willing to pay the Nationals millions of dollars for their rights. Again think about this….The Orioles want to own the Nationals TV rights?

I am absolutely certain that the new Nationals owners would love to pay nearly $400 million dollars for a team whose TV rights are owned by the Orioles. Yea, that is going to happen!

It should be noted for the record that the O's TV network productions lack the top notch quality of CSN. The games are not offered in HD and to be quite honest about it they do things on the cheap hiring less than CSN standard production facilities.

After that ad you can see what I have been telling you for over a month and that is MLB baseball is dealing with a man who wants to high jack TV money that he has no right to have! All hail "King Peter!"

A network that has the Nationals, Orioles and CSN is what is best for the fans of the Washington area. Any things else would be a travesty and a total slap in the face to baseball fans in this region.

Maybe you can now feel some of the pain of the MLB team that has been working on the deal with the Orioles.

Meanwhile, the poor folks at the Nationals front office have all that good news about tickets and the radio deal is working out fine, so far, but no TV.

It is a crime and one that MLB is hoping to resolve by Friday


Capitol Dugout Top Stories

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