- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Baltimore Orioles yesterday released their long-delayed local television schedule, again heightening speculation a similar slate for the Washington Nationals is close at hand.

The Orioles again will be seen on Comcast SportsNet, WNUV-TV (Channel 54) and WJZ (Channel 13). CSN will show 87 games, while WNUV will chip in with 38 and WJZ with 25. The team’s broadcast announcing crew of Jim Hunter, Fred Manfra, Jim Palmer and Buck Martinez also returns, with Palmer and Martinez agreeing to new multiyear contracts. Hunter and Manfra will split duties between TV and WBAL’s flagship radio coverage.

The team has no contract with a Washington-based, over-the-air station to broadcast its games.

The Orioles, along with Washington one of the last MLB teams to release a TV schedule, had its local TV plans essentially set weeks ago. But those plans remained unannounced while negotiations continued between team owner Peter Angelos and Major League Baseball over a financial protection package to shield the Orioles from the arrival of the Nationals.

Those talks — which call for guarantees to the Orioles’ annual local revenues, future resale value and a dominant stake in a new regional sports network — are still not done despite six months of effort. But speculation continues to build that a deal is within days of being announced, a move that would at last free the Nationals to set up their own local TV schedule, as well as spur efforts to sell the club. MLB, current owners of the Nationals, has battled with Angelos over TV territories for both clubs and who controls asset rights to those territories.

MLB president Bob DuPuy last week vowed the Nationals’ April 4 season opener will be televised.

Orioles officials declined to say why yesterday was chosen to release the TV schedule.

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