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Friday, March 09, 2007

Senators to examine baseball deal with DirecTV- AP

March 9, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two senators plan to examine baseball's $700 million, seven-year deal with DirecTV to determine its impact on fans.

Under the agreement announced Thursday, the deal contains a provision that allows its "Extra Innings" package of out-of-market games to remain on cable television if the other incumbent providers -- iN Demand and EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network -- agree to match the terms.

But Robert Jacobson, president of iN Demand Networks LLC, said those terms for the "Extra Innings" package of out-of-market games were impossible for his company to agree to and called it a "de facto exclusive deal."

"I will review this deal to ensure it benefits consumers," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. "I'm encouraged that Major League Baseball may be willing to provide broader access to their games than what was initially proposed. I will be watching closely to ensure the league works in good faith so that America's pastime is available to all fans. My concern all along has been that fans continue to have the ability to enjoy baseball on television."

The agreement also drew the attention of Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"I will be analyzing the commitment to see ... if the conditions for other carriers are satisfactory," Specter said. "This arrangement should motivate the NFL to reconsider broader coverage on its Sunday ticket and Thursday/Saturday programming to make such games available to other carriers beyond DirecTV.

"It may be necessary for the Senate Judiciary Committee to have further hearings on the antitrust implications of the NFL and MLB TV programming and whether it is in the public interest to allow the antitrust exemptions of the NFL and MLB to continue."


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