Nationals fans to see fewer TV games in ‘06

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MASN was created by Major League Baseball (MLB) as part of a deal to compensate Orioles owner Peter Angelos for the move of the Nationals to the region. Under the agreement, the Orioles receive the bulk of MASN’s revenue. The Orioles, who currently are broadcast on Comcast SportsNet, will be shown on MASN beginning with the 2007 season.

Comcast sued the Orioles last year, arguing that the team and MLB took the Orioles’ television rights from Comcast SportsNet and gave them to MASN without allowing Comcast the right to match the offer.

A judge threw out the lawsuit, but Comcast still refused to carry MASN and its Nationals broadcasts. Many industry analysts say Comcast will not carry MASN unless it gets an equity share in the network.

MASN spokesman Todd Webster defended the schedule.

“It’s a great package,” Mr. Webster said. “All of the games are available. MASN is doing its part.”

The announcement came at a difficult time for the Nationals. MLB, which owns the franchise, has refused to name a new owner for the team until a dispute with the city over a stadium lease agreement is resolved.

“We understand it’s a difficult situation here now without ownership,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. “There are different things we have no control over. We certainly would like to be exposed to a larger group of our fans in the D.C. area on TV, especially when we’re on the road. But we also hope they’ll come out [to RFK Stadium] when we’re home. And if we play well, maybe we’ll get some games added to the package before the season’s over.”

Mark Zuckerman contributed to this report.

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