- The Washington Times - Monday, January 25, 2021

Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, which broadcasts Nationals and Orioles games, has made significant changes to Washington’s pre- and postgame programming while cutting three on-air personalities: Dan Kolko, Alex Chappell and Bo Porter.

In a statement Monday, the Nationals said MASN’s decision was “against our wishes.” The network has cut Nats Xtra, the pre- and postgame show that Kolko and Porter were on, to 15 minutes.

Kolko was a longtime member of MASN, beginning as a beat reporter for the Nationals before taking an on-camera role as a on-field reporter. He began in 2019 as the host of Nats Xtra. Porter was an analyst on Nats Xtra and Chappell was the in-game reporter, both for the last two years.

“To say that we are incredibly disappointed and upset by MASN’s decisions would be a gross understatement,” the Nationals’ statement read. “To be clear — these decisions were made by MASN and against our wishes.

“As we have expressed to both MASN and Major League Baseball, we are very concerned about the negative impact these decisions could have on our fans, especially now when content shared via broadcast and digital channels is vital for them to stay connected with our team,” the statement continued. “We want to thank Dan, Bo and Alex for their professionalism and for being good stewards of our team’s story over the years. They are part of the Washington Nationals family and we wish them all the best.”

MASN did not immediately reply to a request for comment regarding the decision to part ways with Kolko, Chappell and Porter, or regarding the cut in length for the pre- and postgame show.

MASN is owned by both the Orioles and Nationals, although Baltimore owns the significant majority of the network. Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos argued the Nationals would cut into his team’s market after they moved from Montreal to Washington, which prompted the creation of MASN.

There have been issues ever since, with legal battles over rights fees. Most recently, a New York appeals court upheld a decision in October that MASN owed the Nationals $100 million. Baltimore plans to appeal that decision to the state’s highest court, though.

MASN announced Monday plans to launch a sports media app to stream content within the network’s broadcast territory. But fans will still be required to have a cable subscription to use the app.

The network’s broadcast territory spans seven states, and the app is expected to be ready by opening day. The app will also feature unique video and editorial content, live odds and gaming analysis, according to a release.

The live streaming will be available on desktop, mobile and Roku platforms.

MASN will continue, as we have for the last 15 years, to broadcast more than 300 baseball games and 600 30-minute pre- and post-game shows,” John McGuinness said in a release, the senior vice president of marketing and general sales manager of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. “The network’s investment in live streaming expands our ability to deliver premium content and provide deeper engagement opportunities for fans and marketers alike.”

The Athletic first reported last week that MASN was moving away from pregame and postgame shows while also cutting on-air staff for both the Nationals and Orioles. MASN announced the Orioles’ broadcast team Monday, confirming the exits of several broadcasters, including Gary Thorne and Jim Hunter.

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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