Cable Operators

Comcast Sues MLB, Orioles

4/22/2005 5:02 AM Eastern

Comcast SportsNet struck back at Major League Baseball and the Baltimore Orioles Thursday, filing suit in a Maryland Circuit Court against a proposed Orioles/Washington Nationals joint regional sports network venture that it claims violates Comcast’s current cable-carriage deal with the Orioles.

The MSO is seeking “equitable relief and monetary damage” as part of the suit, filed Thursday in Montgomery County, Md., Circuit Court.

Comcast Corp. alleged that the accord reached earlier this month by MLB, the Nationals and the Orioles to start their own RSN in 2007 violates its current cable agreement with the Orioles, which expires in 2006. Comcast Sports Network Mid-Atlantic currently distributes 87 regular-season Orioles games.

According to the suit, CSN has exclusive negotiating rights to renew its deal with the Orioles through Nov. 1, 2005, and it has the right to match any agreement reached between the Orioles and a third party regarding the future local pay television rights to the club’s games.

In a statement, Comcast said it has sought for months to negotiate a deal with the league for carriage of Nationals games. The Nationals do not currently have a cable-television deal: 76 games are aired on two local over-the-air stations.

“The Nationals, their fans and D.C. cable and satellite customers have also been damaged as a result of actions by MLB and the Baltimore Orioles,” the statement said.

Representatives from MLB or the two teams could be reached for comment at press time.

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