Time Warner Throws Curve at MASN

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Time Warner Cable Tuesday came out swinging against Mid-Atlantic Sports Network one day after the regional sports network launched a Web site to spur support for the network in North Carolina.

In what has been a long-running carriage dispute, MASN Monday launched a Web site, PlayBallNow.org, which encourages Time Warner’s North Carolina-based subscribers to lobby elected officials, the state’s attorney general and the Federal Communications Commission to pressure Time Warner to offer the channel on its basic tier.

Although the network’s target DMA is Baltimore/Washington, D.C., MASN has the rights to distribute live Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals Major League Baseball games into North Carolina. The Web site claimed that the network also offers 150 NCAA basketball games and more than 50 NCAA football and lacrosse games.

But Time Warner -- which would not reveal how many subscribers it has within MASN’s North Carolina footprint -- responded by saying that the network is better suited for digital-tier carriage.

“[MASN] programming, which focuses on the Orioles and Nationals games, is of little interest to our customers in North Carolina,” Time Warner spokeswoman Maureen Huff said. “We have nevertheless tried to negotiate with MASN for carriage on the digital tier. But MASN has insisted on carriage on our most broadly distributed tier, which would result in almost all of our customers having to pay for a service very few people have interest in watching.”

The Web-site launch followed MASN’s recent decision to file for arbitration to compel the Connecticut-based cable giant to carry the local sports network. Thus far, Time Warner has yet to respond to MASN’s arbitration request.

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