Thursday, September 01, 2005

Peter Angelos: Enemy of the People

It is outrageous that tonight's game between the Nationals, the only local team in a playoff race, and the Braves, a team whose games are broadcast on a national television network, is not on local TV. The TBS broadcast is blacked out, and the only available TV outlets are RCN and DirectTV. (You can also watch the game on

We have one person to thank for this media debacle: Peter Angelos. His attempt to leverage his opposition to the relocation of the Expos to DC landed him majority rights in a regional major league baseball network, which he promptly used to create a situation in which the Nationals games were no longer seen on basic cable. As the Washington Post reports:

"Angelos, who fought for years to keep a team out of Washington, controls the TV rights to the Nationals. Granting the Orioles owner the rights to his competitor's games was the price Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was willing to pay to compensate the famously litigious Angelos for moving the Montreal Expos to Washington. That and guaranteeing Angelos a minimum sale price of $365 million for the Orioles if Angelos decides to sell the team.

With the broadcast rights to the Nationals in hand, Angelos this spring established the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network in partnership with Major League Baseball, which acquired a 10 percent share of the network in return for paying an additional $75 million to Angelos. The Orioles owner then told Comcast that starting in 2007, when the Orioles' contract with Comcast expires, the network would broadcast the games of both teams.

But Comcast SportsNet, which also wanted to broadcast the Nationals, sued the Orioles and MLB, charging it had been denied its contractual right to match any offer from a third party before the Orioles could move to another network. And, since it controlled the main cable system that would distribute MASN, it announced it would not air the Nationals."

Had MLB had any guts, they wouldn't have granted Angelos these extraordinary rights, and tonight you'd be watching the Nationals game on local cable. But, they did, so you're not. And you're missing a great game: it's now 7-7 in the top of the 7th, and the Nationals have the bases loaded with two outs.


Scott M. Collins said...

Great blog, I enjoy the frequent posts and the angry commentary.

I fell in love with the Nats this past spring while living in Northern Virginia, but then I got a new job and we moved to Kentucky on June 30th. When we got here, I immediately got DirecTV and I have seen EVERY Nats game since. Looking back at NoVA, it really makes me wonder why everyone complains about the TV situation, but doesn't switch to DirecTV. It's been awesome.

Good luck, but I highly doubt the Comcast situation will be fully resolved any time in 2005.

Leiv & Erik said...

We agree that the Comcast situation is a long way from being resolved. We don't want to be flacks for MLB, but the package is pretty good, especially if you travel a lot.

And thanks for the kind words! We really appreciate it.