Sen. Kerry Objects to Possible DirecTV-Baseball Deal

Feb 1, 2007  •  Post A Comment

A possible deal between No. 1 satellite-TV service DirecTV and Major League Baseball has Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry objecting to the Federal Communications Commission.

Similar to DirecTV’s accord with the National Football League, for the NFL Sunday Ticket, the deal reportedly gives DirecTV viewers exclusive rights to see games played outside the markets they live in.

Sen. Kerry’s objection, conveyed in a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin, is that an exclusive deal between the league and DirecTV would replace the “MLB Extra Innings” package, leaving out both EchoStar, the No. 2 satellite-TV operator and cable television customers.

The “MLB Extra Innings” cable package comes from iN Demand Holdings, a joint venture of Comcast Holdings, Cox Communications Holdings, Inc., and a Time Warner Entertainment-Advance/Newhouse Partnership. It allows customers of a number of cable providers, EchoStar’s Dish Network and DirecTV to see 60 games.

“Extra Innings is currently available to 75 million subscribers through cable as well as DirecTV and the Dish Network,” Sen. Kerry said in the letter. “However, if this exclusive deal is approved, only 15 million DirecTV subscribers will be able to purchase Extra Innings, leaving 50 million Americans without access to out-of-market games that they currently enjoy and a viable alternative to view them.

Citing Boston’s connection with the Red Sox, Sen. Kerry said he was concerned that this deal, and others that may follow, will separate fans from their favorite teams and reduce competition in the sports market.

A DirecTV spokesman declined comment.

“This deal, by definition, reduces consumer choice and competition in the media market,” Sen. Kerry wrote. “Fans who want to purchase Extra Innings will be forced to pay whatever DirecTV charges, and those who cannot subscribe to DirecTV, like some apartment building residents, will have no option at all.”

(Editor: Baumann)