The Washington Times - January 21, 2008, 03:57PM

\ Arbitrator Jerome Sussman ruled earlier this month that Time Warner was wrong to place MASN on a basic tier while carrying its own RSN’s on basic analog service in the state. He acknowledged that Time Warner has the right to decide what channels it will and will not carry, but said Time Warner did not use the discretion in good faith in MASN’s case.\

\ “Since MASN alone was singled out for broadcast on a digital tier, that discretion was abused, and I conclude that Time Warner exercised its discretion here with an intent to discriminate,” Sussman wrote.\

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\ Now, MASN and Time Warner will head to “baseball-style” arbitration, in which another arbitrator will decide the terms under which Time Warner will carry MASN. \

\ “MASN is obviously pleased with this result, and we look forward to reaching a swift resolution that allows all Time Warner customers throughout North Carolina the same opportunity to watch their local sports on television that millions of other North Carolinians who receive their television service from other providers already enjoy,” MASN spokesman Todd Webster said. “Both in North Carolina and beyond, consumers should have access to all relevant regional sports programming and not simply the programming that cable providers want viewers to see.”\

\ North Carolina is technically part of the Orioles’ and Nationals viewing area, and MASN has bolstered its coverage of Carolina sports in the past two years, televising several games involving UNC-Wilmington and other schools in the region.\

\ It will interesting to see how this may affect negotiations between cable companies and the NFL Network. The NFL has long been asking for the right to have “baseball-style” arbitration in an effort to get wider distribution of its network, but cable companies have refused. This arbitrator’s decision could be the precedent the NFL desires.