Q. I saw on Comcast’s web site that Comcast was gong to remove MASN in February. Is that for sure? I get Comcast to watch the Washington Nationals on MASN and sometimes the Orioles, too. Please don’t remove it. — Betty, Arlington, Virginia.
Betty, as you note, MASN is the regional sports channel in the Washington/Baltimore area that has the rights to local broadcasts of both the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals games. The channel is controlled and majority-owned by the Peter Angelos family, which also owns the Orioles, although the Nationals have a 25 percent stake in MASN.
Comcast’s contract to carry MASN is scheduled to expire in February, according to the cable operator’s web page for contract renewals. However, that doesn’t mean Comcast won’t continue carrying MASN next month..
The FCC requires Comcast, and other cable TV operators, to inform subscribers “as soon as possible” that a carriage agreement is about to expire and therefore, theoretically, could result in a channel removal. (The rule once said the cable service had to do this within 30 days of when the contract would end, but the agency last year changed that to “as soon as possible.”)
This is why Comcast has listed MASN as a channel that could be removed. But it doesn’t mean it will be removed. In fact, considering that Comcast has carried MASN since 2006 without interruption, the odds are good that it will continue to do so this year and beyond.
But the situation bears watching because pay TV operators, including Comcast, have been more reluctant to carry regional sports channels in the last few years. With video revenues declining due to falling subscription numbers, cable and satellite TV services (and live streaming services) have stopped carrying some RSNs to save money. (The sports channels charge more in carriage fees than the average non-sports channel because they have to pay so much to the leagues for the broadcast rights to the games.)
It’s possible that Comcast will take a more aggressive stance in the upcoming negotiations with MASN than it has in the past.
The TV Answer Man will monitor this situation and report back here if anything changes.
Last note: Comcast’s contract to carry AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain and Root Sports Northwest expires in March. We’ll keep our eyes on that as well.
Betty, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann