Kerry Continues to Pressure Congress on Baseball Deal

Feb 16, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Congressional pressure is building on Major League Baseball and DirecTV to alter their still unannounced but reportedly $700 million exclusive deal for out-of-market baseball games.

Sen. John Kerry, who has already told the Federal Communications Commission of his concern that the deal will make it impossible for Boston Red Sox fans who live outside Boston to watch their team’s games, now says the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the issue. The date has yet to be determined.

It might not be the only Congressional hearing. An aide to Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., said the senator’s staff is examining whether there could be a need for the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to reexamine baseball’s anti-trust exemption in the wake of the deal.

Sen. Kerry said his fear is that the deal will disenfranchise 60 million fans who have watched the Extra Innings package of games on both local cable and EchoStar’s Dish Network.

The Extra Innings package of up to 60 out-of-market games a week has up to now been available on all three services. About 700,000 people get the package, with 300,000 getting it from EchoStar and cable.

Sen. Kerry in a statement said he continues to be concerned.

“I have serious problems with any mega-deal that makes it harder for people across the country to follow their favorite baseball team,” he said. “I’m especially troubled by this agreement, which I believe is not in the best long-term interests of the sport. Major League Baseball is making a short-term profit, but they are shutting out fans that can’t or won’t be able to keep up with their teams if this deal goes through.”

DirecTV declined comment on the scheduling of the hearing.

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