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Fox Sports Net, Royals Reach Distribution Pact

After two months of pitching its games to local cable operators, Major League
Baseball's Kansas City Royals sought some distribution relief from Fox Sports
Net Midwest.

The two parties Thursday agreed to a multi-year distribution deal in which
Fox Sports Midwest will air 100 Royals games a year beginning with the remainder
of the 2003 season, said executives from both parties.

The deal ends the Royals' attempt to bypass longtime distribution partner Fox
and offer its games to operators via the fledgling Royals Television

Unlike the Yankees Entertainment Sports Network, the service wasn't a 24-hour
sports network, but rather offered games to operators for air on
local-origination channels.

Vice president of broadcasting and network relations Dave Witty said the
Royals Television Network had distribution - the games were in front of 460,000
subscribers out of a potential 1.4 million households in several midwest states
before the deal - but admitted it was difficult to gain maximum distribution for
the games.

The Royals will continue to produce and sell ad time for the games. 

"RSTN will benefit from their vast network and will now reach over 1.4
million cable homes in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska," added RSTN President Mark
Gorris in a statement.

"Under our mission of 'more games, for more people,' our staff is at work
trying to expand our network to additional homes, throughout the six-state

For Fox Sports Midwest, the deal returns the Royals to its programming fold.
The network carried 30 Royals contests last year, as well as St. Louis Cardinals
baseball games.

Sources said the network, which was paying about $5 million to the team, did
not want to increase either its number of Royals telecasts or its payment to the
franchise. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

'This agreement enables Fox Sports Net to continue its working relationship
with the Royals, which has always been our goal, and provide our viewers the
best local programming possible,' said Fox Sports Net Vice President &
General Manager Jack Donovan said in a statement.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.