No Victory Seen in Minn. Impasse

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Amid a standoff between Victory Sports and local Minnesota cable operators, the state’s governor has urged the parties to take their license-fee dispute to mediation.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty last Wednesday asked the fledgling regional sports network to offer Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball telecasts to any cable provider who agrees to take part in mediation, although it was unclear who would mediate the carriage terms.

Two weeks into the 2004 baseball season Victory — owned by the Twins organization — has yet to reach carriage deals with top state MSOs Time Warner Cable, Comcast Corp., Charter Communications Inc. and Mediacom Communications Corp., or with satellite providers DirecTV Inc. or EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network.

The network reportedly wants $2.10 per subscriber for a lineup of Twins games, plus St. Cloud State Husky and Minnesota State Maverick college hockey.

Victory Sports president Kevin Cattoor welcomed the Governor’s intervention. “We need something to break the stalemate,” he said.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the national providers who haven’t picked up Victory here aren't interested in pursuing this issue quickly, and it’s not consistent with what their customers want done and not consistent with what the fans want done.”

A Comcast spokesperson discouraged calls for mediation, contending the impasse should be resolved privately.

“We are concerned that the multi-party mediation proposed by the governor raises serious antitrust issues, as many of the companies involved are competitors,” said the spokesperson.