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MLB Pitches DirecTV Deal To FCC

Major League Baseball told the FCC Wednesday that its deal with DirecTV for carriage of its Extra Innings out-of-market package of baseball games would be fan friendly even if it turns out to be exclusive.

The league, responding to a Feb. 20 FCC request for information from the commission, said that the deal, even if current Extra Innings carriers EchoStar and In Demand (a consortium of Time Warner, Comcast and Cox) don't match it,  would mean that, ultimately, "more of our fans have access to more of our programming and in a more compelling format than ever before," the league told FCC Media Bureau Chief Monica Shah Desai in a letter.

DirecTV already made a similar argument in a letter to Desai March 2.

Some in Washington, including Senate Commerce Committee member John Kerry (D-Mass.), are concerned that if the incumbents don't match DirecTV's price and carriage terms, the package becomes exclusive to DirecTV and some current viewers will be dislocated. That would include Boston Red Sox fan and House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who currently gets his games via Comcast's In Demand.

MLB points out to the FCC that the package is not exclusive, but also says that EchoStar and In Demand would have to match DirecTV's terms, which importantly include widespread carriage of the MLB Channel, baseball's cable channel in which DirecTV has a minority interest.