WASHINGTON -- Two senators plan to examine baseball's $700
million, seven-year deal with DirecTV to determine its impact on fans.
Under the agreement announced Thursday, the deal contains a
provision that allows its "Extra Innings" package of
out-of-market games to remain on cable television if the other
incumbent providers -- InDemand and EchoStar Communications Corp.'s
Dish Network -- agree to match the terms.
But Robert Jacobson, president of iN Demand Networks LLC, said
those terms for the "Extra Innings" package of out-of-market
games were impossible for his company to agree to and called it a
"de facto exclusive deal."
"I will review this deal to ensure it benefits consumers,"
said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. "I'm encouraged that Major League
Baseball may be willing to provide broader access to their games
than what was initially proposed. I will be watching closely to
ensure the league works in good faith so that America's pastime is
available to all fans. My concern all along has been that fans
continue to have the ability to enjoy baseball on television."
The agreement also drew the attention of Sen. Arlen Specter,
R-Pa., the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"I will be analyzing the commitment to see ... if the
conditions for other carriers are satisfactory," Specter said.
"This arrangement should motivate the NFL to reconsider broader
coverage on its Sunday ticket and Thursday/Saturday programming to
make such games available to other carriers beyond DirecTV.
"It may be necessary for the Senate Judiciary Committee to have
further hearings on the antitrust implications of the NFL and MLB
TV programming and whether it is in the public interest to allow
the antitrust exemptions of the NFL and MLB to continue."