Mid-Atlantic Sports Network


Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
MASN-Logo.png
Launched 2005
Owned by Baltimore Orioles
Washington Nationals
Slogan Be There.
Country  United States
Language English
Broadcast area Baltimore, Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Nationwide via DirecTV and Dish Network
Website MASNsports.com
Availability
Satellite
DirecTV 640 MASN (SD/HD)
641 MASN2 (SD)
641-1 MASN2 (HD)
Dish Network 432 (MASN)
433 (MASN2)
Cable
Verizon FiOS 77 (MASN), 577 (MASN HD), 1 (MASN2), 501 (MASN2 HD)
Comcast Check local listings for channels
Cox Check local listings for channels
Other carriers Check local listings for channels

Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) is a regional sports network owned by two Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises—the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals -- and televises every available game of both teams, live and in high-definition. The network is available in a seven-state region, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Charlotte, North Carolina on more than 23 cable and fiber optic providers, and is televised nationally via satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network.

Since MASN launched a full-time, 24/7 schedule in July 2006, the network has televised more than 600 professional and NCAA Division I collegiate events annually. MASN is the official cable network of the Baltimore Ravens, and televises preseason games, live post-game shows during the regular season, and nightly Ravens programming throughout football season. MASN is the official cable network of Georgetown Hoyas basketball, George Mason Patriots Basketball, Big East basketball and football, Big South basketball and football, Colonial Athletic Association basketball, UNC Wilmington Seahawks basketball and the BB&T Classic.

MASN has four channels: full-time MASN and MASN HD channels, as well as overflow MASN2 and MASN2 HD channels to accommodate both teams' schedules.

Contents

Availability

MASN is currently carried on DirecTV national DBS system, Dish Network, Cox, RCN, Comcast Corporation and Charter cable systems as well as Verizon's FiOS TV in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. The network also carried regionally by Antietam, Armstrong, Atlantic Broadband, Bay Country, Broadstripe, Easton, Harron Metrocast, Kuhn, Mediacom, MI Connections, Ntelos, Oldtown Community, Openband, Reds Cable and TriCounty.

It is however, notably not carried by Time Warner Cable in North Carolina leaving Orioles and Nationals fans unable to watch their regional team in that area.

Background

When the Montreal Expos were relocated to Washington, D.C. in 2004, the issue arose regarding television rights for the new franchise. Since at least 1981, Major League Baseball had designated the Baltimore Orioles television territory to extend from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Orioles agreed to share its territory with the Nationals in return for the ability to present the Nationals games on the Orioles television network, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. The Orioles have a 90 percent stake in MASN and MLB paid the Orioles $75 million for 10 percent of the regional sports network. When the Lerner family bought the Nationals in July 2006 they became part owners in MASN. Over the next 23 years, the Washington Nationals’ stake in the network will increase to 33 percent. Under the current arrangement, MASN paid the Nationals $20 million to broadcast their games in 2005.

Programming

Nationals and Orioles

MASN televises every available Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles game live and in high definition (where available), as well as Nats Xtra and O's Xtra, the network's exclusive pre and post game shows.

As with all Major League Baseball broadcasts, MASN-produced games are available at mlb.tv for out-of-market viewers, with local viewers able to watch highlights a certain amount of time after the games finish. MASN has not yet offered a statement about in-market streaming.[1]

MASN produces the local over-the-air television broadcast of games of the Nationals for broadcast on Washington's DC50 (WDCW), and of the Orioles for broadcast on WJZ 13 (WJZ-TV). These games are shown on MASN itself outside the local markets.

For the past two seasons, during the Beltway Series, MASN combined the broadcasts by having five broadcasters simultaneously. Each team is represented by an analyst and both sideline reporters. The play-by-play announcers each broadcast for half the game.[2]

Baltimore Ravens

In previous seasons, MASN carried Ravens programming including Ravens Xtra, MASN's post-game show, 1 Winning Drive, The John Harbaugh Show, Ravens Report, Game Plan and Purple Passion. As of the 2010 NFL season, MASN no longer carries Ravens programming.[3]

John Riggins

In 2010, MASN re-launched the John Riggins Show. The Redskins Hall of Famer also appeared on the network between 2006 and 2008. In addition to an afternoon drive program, Riggins hosts Riggo's Postgame Xtra after each Redskins game.

NCAA football and basketball

The network televises 275 NCAA Division I football, basketball, and lacrosse games each year.

NCAA football games on MASN feature regional teams including West Virginia, Pittsburgh, East Carolina, Marshall, Rutgers, Liberty, Coastal Carolina, Lafayette, Georgetown, Gardner-Webb, VMI, Virginia Tech and Lehigh. Conferences include the A-10, Big East, Big South, C-USA, Ivy, MAC, Patriot, Sunbelt and WAC.

MASN is the official cable network of Georgetown Hoyas basketball, George Mason Patriots basketball and UNC Wilmington Seahawks basketball. The network televises the Big East Conference game of the week in college football and basketball and is the official cable network of the Big South Conference. MASN carries over 200 NCAA basketball games each season.

MASN's basketball schedule includes A-10, America East, Big 12, Big East, Big South, CAA, C-USA, MAAC, MAC, NEC, Patriot, Southern and WAC games featuring Georgetown, George Mason, Old Dominion, VCU, Radford, Liberty, James Madison, VMI, William and Mary, UNC-Wilmington, Campbell, NC State, Charlotte, UNC-Greensboro, Winston-Salem State, Appalachian State, Davidson, High Point, UNC-Asheville, Winthrop, Lehigh, Lafayette, Mount St. Mary's, Loyola, UMBC, Towson, Navy, American and George Washington.

MASN also televises the annual BB&T Classic in Washington D.C. and coach's Shows for regional NCAA teams. In the past, the lineup has included the Roy Williams Show, the Sylvia Hatchell Shows, the Skip Holtz Show, the Sidney Lowe and the Tom O'Brien Show.

Other programming

MASN's other sports programming includes programs on golf, fishing, horse racing, poker, NASCAR, etc.

MASN HD

MASN HD is a 1080i high definition simulcast of MASN. On September 16, 2008, MASN announced it will launch a full-time HD network and televise 200 MLB games in HD in 2009.[4] Since 2010, MASN and MASN 2 have televised every available Orioles and Nationals game in high definition.[5]

Controversy and lawsuits

Comcast

After the Orioles agreed to share its television territory with the Nationals, another controversy arose with television rights. Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic held a 10-year contract to broadcast Orioles games on cable through the 2006 season, a vestige of the channel's days as HTS, which was once co-owned WJZ-TV. When MASN received the rights to broadcast Nationals games on MASN, Comcast's wholly own subsidiary, CSN-Mid Atlantic, sued the Baltimore Orioles seeking enforcement of a clause in its contract with the Orioles which CSN claimed allowed them exclusive first and last refusal rights on future television contracts. MASN and the Orioles, however, claimed that MASN is a trade name for TCR Sports Broadcasting Holding, established in 1996 to sell all of the Orioles TV rights, which resulted in the sale of the 10-year deal to HTS. Because of this the Orioles and MASN claimed to be simply bringing their rights in-house. On July 27, 2005, Montgomery County Circuit Judge Durke G. Thompson threw out Comcast's lawsuit, ruling that the clause in Comcast’s contract with the Orioles had not been triggered. Comcast filed an amended complaint and on October 5, Judge Thompson threw out Comcast's second effort.

Up to that point, Comcast was the only major cable carrier that refused to carry MASN. Additionally, Adelphia - in bankruptcy court and therefore unable to add programming - was in the process of being sold to Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

On August 4, 2006 it was announced that Comcast would carry MASN programming starting in September 2006 following a settlement between Comcast and MASN.[6] Comcast was forced to abandon its lawsuit under the terms of the deal.[7]

In August 2008, MASN made a carriage complaint to the FCC after negotiations with Comcast were unproductive for MASN. On December 23, 2009, Comcast and MASN finally settled their dispute over these systems, and Comcast will carry MASN on the remaining systems "as early as 2010". The FCC complaint was dismissed the same day.[8]

On March 23, 2010, MASN announced that Comcast will carry MASN in central Pennsylvania beginning on March 31.[9]

Time Warner Cable

Time Warner Cable in North Carolina does not currently carry MASN as part of their basic cable package. This has resulted in the network airing a series of radio advertisements in the area asking Time Warner customers to put pressure on the cable provider. On January 21, 2008 an arbitrator from the FCC ordered TWC to place MASN on its North Carolina cable systems, citing an argument that Time Warner was not carrying MASN in an effort to protect its own sports network.[10] Time Warner appealed the arbitrator's decision to the FCC. On October 30, 2008, the FCC's Media Bureau ordered TWC to launch MASN on the analog tier of its North Carolina systems within 30 days, denying all of Time Warner Cable's motions in its appeal.[11] Time Warner once again appealed that decision, this time to the full commission. On January 16, 2009, the item was placed "on circulation" and stayed there for almost two years. Finally, on December 20, 2010, the FCC voted 4-1 to grant Time Warner Cable's petition for review and reversed the Media Bureau's order. In the Memorandum Opinion and Order, it was revealed that in addition to offering carriage to MASN on digital basic, TWC had "inquired into MASN's willingness to agree to carriage of MASN on an analog tier only in its Eastern North Carolina systems". [12] This new information seems to expose the apparent willingness of TWC to carry MASN on an analog tier in the eartern part of North Carolina, where the Nationals and Orioles are the only "local" teams designated by MLB. In the remaining home markets that are shared with the Braves and Reds, MASN would be carried on digital basic, which is the same level of service many Braves games are carried.[13] To this date, MASN, the exclusive rights holder, insists upon analog carriage in all areas, therefore MASN is not carried on Time Warner Cable.[14] All games involving the Orioles and Nationals are blacked out in most of North Carolina from all other outlets including MLB Network, TBS, ESPN weekday games, MLB Extra Innings, and MLB.tv.

Alleged Orioles bias

Since the Baltimore Orioles are the majority owners of MASN, some, including Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher, have accused the network of a bias in favor of the Orioles and Maryland-area sports. Critics point to graphics, colors and the hiring of Gary Thorne for Orioles broadcasts as examples of bias.[15] Fisher alleges that the Orioles are using MASN to discourage the growth of the Nationals fanbase and to maintain Orioles dominance of the greater Baltimore-Washington area.

MASN has dismissed these claims, arguing that the viability of the network depends on the success of both franchises. Both teams, for example, play the same number of games on MASN, MASN 2 and MASN HD. Additionally, the network maintains that both teams have the same amount of coverage in terms of beat writers, talent blogs, player and manager blogs and coverage of special events on both MASN and MASNsports.com.[16]

MASN talent

MASN's Orioles broadcasters

ESPN veteran Gary Thorne teams with Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer to form the primary team for MASN Orioles coverage. Former Orioles player, coach and executive Mike Flanagan also shared color analyst duties from 2010 until his death in August 2011. Former WBFF sports reporter and current MASN broadcaster Amber Theoharis handled sideline reporting chores until September 2010. Orioles radio broadcaster Jim Hunter co-hosts pre-game and post-game coverage along with former O's player and coach – and 1983 World Series MVP – Rick Dempsey. Hunter did play-by-play of almost all Sunday games due to Thorne's responsibilities on the radio broadcast of Sunday Night Baseball (but does not have that role for the 2010 season). Dempsey also serves as the game analyst for occasional games as needed. Amber Theoharis, Billy Ripken, Dave Johnson and Tom Davis have served as a fill-ins for Dempsey and Hunter. Mark Viviano previously did sideline reporting when needed.

MASN's Nationals broadcasters

Bob Carpenter and F. P. Santangelo handle broadcasting duties for Nationals games, with former NESN and ESPN reporter Debbi Taylor as sideline reporter. Nationals radio announcer Dave Jageler occasionally fill in when Carpenter is unavailable. Former Reds pitcher Rob Dibble stepped down as color analyst as of September 1, 2010.[17] WTOP-FM Radio sportscaster Byron Kerr serves as the fill-in sideline reporter. Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight host the pre-game and post-game shows, Nats Xtra. Kerr and baseball historian Phil Wood fill in for Holliday and Knight as needed. In January 2010 Ben Goessling joined the MASN team as additional on air talent.

References

  1. ^ "Yankees' online viewing breakthrough". Washington Times. 2009-06-25. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/25/yankees-agreement-is-breakthrough-deal/. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  2. ^ "Battle of the Beltways" Kicks Off Friday on MASN (2009-06-25). "MASNsports.com". MASNsports.com. http://masnsports.com/2009/06/battle-of-the-beltways-kicks-o.html. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  3. ^ "Peter Angelos - Peter Angelos remains a powerful paradox". Baltimore Sun. 2010-10-02. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-angelos-20101002,0,7021507.story?page=1. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  4. ^ MASN to Launch Full-Time HD Channel (2008-09-16). "MASNsports.com". MASNsports.com. http://masnsports.com/2008/09/masn-to-launch-fulltime-hd-cha.html. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  5. ^ MASN Announces 2010 Baseball Television Schedule (2010-01-21). "MASNsports.com". MASNsports.com. http://masnsports.com/2010/01/masn-announces-2010-baseball-t.html. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  6. ^ The Official Site of The Washington Nationals: News: Washington Nationals News
  7. ^ "Not all getting O's new network". Roanoke.com. http://www.roanoke.com/sports/baseball/wb/111008. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  8. ^ "Comcast, MASN Settle Carriage Dispute - 2009-12-23 21:00:42 | Multichannel News". Multichannel.com. http://www.multichannel.com/article/441670-Comcast_MASN_Settle_Carriage_Dispute.php?rssid=20527&q=masn. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  9. ^ "MASNsports.com". MASNsports.com. 2010-03-23. http://masnsports.com/2010/03/masn-launches-on-comcast-in-ha.html. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  10. ^ Time Warner Ordered to Carry Sports Network :: WRAL.com
  11. ^ http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-08-2441A1.pdf
  12. ^ http://www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2010/db1222/FCC-10-202A1.pdf
  13. ^ "Peachtree TV Affiliates | braves.com: Schedule". Mlb.mlb.com. http://mlb.mlb.com/atl/schedule/peachtreetv_affiliates.jsp. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  14. ^ "MASN News & Information - Orioles, Nationals, Ravens on". Masnsports.com. http://www.masnsports.com/masn_news_information/masn-faqs.html. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  15. ^ "Play Ball! First View of Opening Day". The Washington Post. http://blog.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/2007/04/play_ball_first_view_of_openin.html. 
  16. ^ Nats TV: MASN's Defense, Raw Fisher, Washington Post, July 9, 2009
  17. ^ Nats Insider blog

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