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NESN Plans Shift to Basic

New England Sports Network, one of the few remaining premium regional sports
networks, is negotiating a shift to Boston-area expanded-basic packages, which
could prompt rate increases for those packages.

NESN is currently negotiating with AT&T Broadband to launch the service
on basic, representatives from both companies said. The MSO, which has 2 million
basic customers in the Boston DMA, currently offers NESN as a monthly $9.95 pay

NESN is already on expanded-basic cable packages outside of the Boston DMA,
including on AT&T Broadband systems.

It's unclear how much NESN wants to be paid as a basic service. On average,
regional sports networks cost around $1 per subscriber, but the tab can rise as
high as $2.

NESN -- which is owned by the Boston Red Sox Major League Baseball team and
the Boston Bruins National Hockey League team -- competes in the Boston DMA with
Fox Sports Net New England.

NESN has negotiated a basic carriage agreement with Charter Communications
Inc.'s Worcester, Mass., system, which is within the Boston DMA. In that system,
the addition of NESN contributed to a $4.95-per-month rate increase for expanded
basic, according to a report in the Boston Globe.

Charter, meanwhile, continues to negotiate with FSN Midwest in an effort to
reach a carriage deal for its St. Louis-area systems.

Charter has refused to pay what sources called a doubling of the network's
undisclosed rate card. FSN could pull the regional network's signal as early as
Friday if a deal is not reached, sources said.