Comcast Baseball Coverage Gets Hill Hearing


House Government Reform Committeee Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.) has scheduled a hearing Friday, April 7, "Why Most Nats Fans Can't See their Team on TV," on TV coverage, or lack of it, of Washington Nationals Baseball games.

Reportedly, Orioles owner Peter Angelos has been called to testify.

Areas of the Washington suburbs served by Comcast can only see a handful of games because the cable company will not carry the Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).

Comcast had bid on the rights to the Nationals -- the relocated Montreal Expos -- but lost out to MASN.

Comcast has, in turn, refused to carry the network on cable systems serving nearly 2 million subscribers in the network's territory. Cox has recently struck a deal to carry the games in Fairfax, another big Washington suburb.

The Baltimore Orioles, which own MASN, turned to the FCC for help and want to make the dispute an issue in regulators' review of Comcast's planned purchase of parts of Adelphia Communications, which the FCC is still reviewing.

MASN is also moving the Orioles games off of Comcast's own regional sports network to MASN starting next year.

The issue of access to cable programming, particularly access to regional sports networks, has also come up in debate over a new national video-franchising bill being marked up Wednesday in the House Telecommunications Subcommittee.