MLB to Pitch Baseball Net

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Major League Baseball team owners have agreed to a league plan to launch a baseball cable network by fall 2005.

The National Basketball Association and National Football League already have their own cable networks and the National Hockey League has a Canadian channel they've considered importing to the U.S.

It is unclear if the MLB-owned channel would program live games. Pro baseball rights deals are a complicated series of deals for national broadcast and cable, as well as local broadcast and cable telecasts. MLB's national TV deal with Fox expires in 2005 and its ESPN deal is up in 2006. The league says it is "very happy" with its current TV partners.

Programming ideas include spring training games, news conferences, classic games, minor league games, softball, and extensive highlights.

The network still needs to go out and negotiate for carriage with cable and satellite operators. The league will also seek international distribution for the network.