- The Washington Times - Friday, May 27, 2005

Mud continues to fly within the regional TV industry as the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, producer and distributor of Washington Nationals telecasts, seeks to gain additional carriage on cable and satellite TV operators.

MASN is taking sharper aim at rival Comcast Corp., whose Comcast SportsNet subsidiary has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against MASN and Major League Baseball and refuses to carry MASN while litigation is ongoing. MASN spokesman Vince Wladika said Comcast’s hardball tactics ring hollow in the wake of recent disclosures of $24 million in 2004 compensation for Comcast Corp. chief executive Brian Roberts.

“If they’re having trouble making a deal with MASN, it’s because of a Brian Roberts luxury tax Comcast is imposing on their subscribers,” Wladika said. “He’s getting more than $1 for every subscriber they have.”

The Baltimore Orioles, who own a dominant stake in MASN, are preparing a countersuit purporting Comcast is improperly impeding with efforts to get carriage for MASN with other cable and satellite providers, with the official filing expected next week. Previously, Comcast executives said the establishment of MASN represented an “Angelos tax” on consumers, referring to Orioles owner Peter Angelos and potentially higher cable bills spurred by the rise of the regional sports network.

Meanwhile, Cox Cable, a significant carrier in Northern Virginia, is telling its customers it “looks forward to the day when [MASN] presents reasonable contractual terms that would allow Cox to carry MASN and the Nats. They have not done so to date.” The parties remain in negotiations.

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