Monday, April 10, 2006

DC Examiner: Hey Comcast, take the deal please

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Apr 10, 2006 7:00 AM

WASHINGTON - Orioles and Mid Atlantic Sports Network owner Peter Angelos testified before a House committee last Friday he would be willing to work with Comcast to merge MASN with Comcast SportsNet.

The deal is predicated on Comcast making room right now to begin airing MASN produced Nationals games as soon as possible. Then the two sides enter into discussions aimed at merging MASN with CSN.

The Angelos offer is a deal Comcast should take. It makes a great deal of sense for both sides.

It would give Angelos the equity and distribution he wants. It would give CSN the baseball programming they do not want to lose.

There would still have to be two channels because of the programming overlap. And there would undoubtedly be some serious battles along the way. But in the end, this is the right thing for both sides.

Comcast has made equity deals in Dallas with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, in Chicago with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and most recently in New York with Mets owner Fred Wilpon. Those deals were partnerships similar to what Angelos is proposing.

In a free market, Comcast would have to offer a deal at around $350 million mark for 10 years to secure the Nationals TV rights. Just last week, Fox SportsNet West struck a deal with the Angels at $500 million for 10 years.

So if CSN wanted both the Orioles and Nationals, it is easily looking at a 10-year rights deal topping the $650 to $700 million mark to be split between the two teams.

Rather than paying rights fees in excess of $700 million, a partnership deal makes more sense and allows for max rights fees for both the O’s and Nationals.

Comcast did not become this country’s biggest cable company by being stupid. It has bright businessmen who know how to make deals.

Let’s hope those smart businessmen at Comcast put the Nats games on and make a deal with Angelos. It would be good business for all involved, including the Nationals.

We would rather watch games on TV than hearings questioning why they are not on.

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer.

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