Thursday, February 22, 2007
FCC investigating MLB's proposed DirecTV deal
WASHINGTON -- The government is investigating a proposed deal between Major League Baseball and DirecTV Inc. that has had fans in a tizzy.
MLB reportedly seeks to strike an exclusive deal with the satellite television provider to offer its "Extra Innings" baseball package. Disclosure of the Federal Communications Commission's investigation of any such deal came in a letter from FCC chairman Kevin Martin that Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., released Thursday.
The programming option allows baseball fans who live outside the markets of their favorite teams to watch them play for an extra fee. It is currently available to a number of cable and satellite television providers.
Kerry had asked Martin to investigate the "proposed $700 million television deal that could deny many consumers the ability to watch their favorite teams."
Martin, in reply, wrote Kerry: "I share your concerns regarding this proposed deal."
The chairman added that he understood the package had been available to 75 million cable and satellite viewers for the past several years, and would only be viewable by DirecTV customers if a deal were signed.
"I am concerned whenever consumers cannot purchase the programming they want or are forced to purchase programming they don't want," Martin wrote.
DirecTV has never confirmed that the widely reported deal even exists. Robert Mercer, director of public relations for DirecTV, declined to comment late Thursday.
Martin wrote that the agency has "contacted the parties and requested additional information about their proposed arrangement. Once we have this information, we will report to you on the deal's implications for consumers and any recommended changes to the law to ameliorate any harms to consumers."