One More Decision Bud Selig Won’t Make

Admit it… as soon as you read yesterday’s post about Bud Selig and the decisions he is incapable of making, you knew this was coming, didn’t you?

Yes, I’m going to rant… again… about broadcast blackouts and how MLB doesn’t seem to give a rat’s ass about fans throughout Iowa and parts of Nevada (and a few other states) where fans are literally prevented from watching just about any team they care at all about play baseball on cable television or the internet.

I won’t rehash the issue in its entirety. You can click here to read all about it or just type “blackouts” in the search window at the top of our site to bring up any number of my previous rants on the topic. Here, I’ll just provide a little updated rant.

At a Hot Stove banquet the week of Twinsfest, I had the pleasure of listening in on a Q&A session with a panel that included Twins President Dave St. Peter. With encouragement from a fellow Twins fan and blogger who shall remain nameless (other than to say he has a view from Section 219 of Target Field for several Twins games a year) and emboldened by the beer or five I had during dinner and the following couple of hours, I asked Mr. St. Peter whether the Twins would ever address the crazy “blackout” issue that prevents me and my fellow Iowans from seeing Twins games either on cable television or via the internet.

St. Peter admitted that Iowa was in the middle of a “Bermuda Triangle” (his words) and that he and the Twins would like to see the situation changed, but the matter is dictated by MLB’s broadcast rights policy and any changes would have to come from league headquarters. He also suggested I write to Iowa’s Congressional delegation.

Frankly, I was surprised someone in baseball would actually encourage a fan to complain to my Senators and Congressman about MLB (because certainly he must be aware that such a complaint would naturally include a suggestion that baseball’s anti-trust exemption be considered for review), but I let the matter drop at the time.

I didn’t bother to let him know that I had already written a polite letter (really… I CAN be polite when I want to be… and when I think it might be more productive than being brutally honest) to Commissioner Selig a couple of years ago about the blackout policy and got exactly the kind of response I expected. That is to say, no response whatsoever.

I also didn’t point out ot Mr. St. Peter that this issue has been raised by far more influential people than I, such as former MLB president Bob DuPuy, who lobbied for an end to the blackouts… in 2008… with no effect whatsoever.

Of course, I don’t really expect Bud Selig to step in and make a decision regarding the broadcast blackouts. After all, we’re talking about a guy who is seemingly paralyzed by inaction regarding any decision at all that might not be 100% okie-dokie with all of the owners and all of the Networks, so it’s not logical to think he’d make a decision on this matter either.

Then again, considering the decision he did make on the whole All-Star Game/World Series home field thing, maybe we’re all just better off waiting for the next Commissioner anyway. After all, Selig will retire when the latest “last” extension is up in two years, right?

Yeah… right.

– JC

~You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant~

6 Replies to “One More Decision Bud Selig Won’t Make”

  1. ” I don’t really expect Bud Selig to step in and make a decision regarding the broadcast blackouts.”

    Maybe he has. You just don’t like the results. And maybe the Twins don’t either.

    “where fans are literally prevented from watching just about any team they care at all about play baseball on cable television or the internet.”

    Isn’t that the point of the blackout? It appears the Twins are blacked out all over Minnesota and the Dakota’s, in addition to Iowa. Is there some other team we are supposed to care about?

  2. I’ll take a pass on further exchanges with you, TT, concerning Selig, who you clearly have much more affinity for than I do. But the point of a blackout isn’t to keep people from watching games at all.

    The point of blacking out games… that is, keeping fans from being able to watch games on ESPN or or wherever, is to protect viewership of the local broadcast affiliate (in the Twins case, FSN). And that’s fine. Except that FSN isn’t carried by any major cable carrier in the state of Iowa. Neither is FOX-KC… or FOX-Midwest (or whatever the rights holders are of the Royals and Brewers).

    In essence, baseball is allowing broadcast rights “protection” to regional networks who aren’t even carried on cable systems in most (and in some cases all) of the “blackout” area. The result is that Iowans can’t watch games on cable, on the internet or even on ESPN when those games are “subject to local blackout”. So just when the Twins are telling us that their broadcast revenues aren’t at the same level as other teams, they’re allowing their broadcast “partners” from keeping them from broadening their fan base throughout an adjoining state.

    But yeah, I’m sure it makes perfect business sense to Bud.

  3. I’m with you on this one, Jim. Your area is in a no win situation based on current MLB policy. In this age of technology it would not be all that difficult for MLB to allow access to games live for viewers in areas where the local TV affiliate is not available over the air or via cable. That seems a no-brainer to me for developing fan interest.

    In north Iowa where I live, the past couple of years FSN has been carried by Mediacom, my cable provider, so I’ve been able to see most games, but last year it took several weeks for Mediacom and FSN to work out a deal to cover the added games that the previous year were the local Twin Cities channel’s venue (Sundays). In 2011 the Twins negotiated the deal to go exclusive with FSN squeezing out the over-the-air station. During that time, I was in the same situation you are in – having no access to TV games.

    TT, in case you have not looked at the blackout map from our perspective, unlike Minnesota and the Dakotas, Iowa is considered “in the market” of SIX major league baseball teams. That means we are blocked from any Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Royals, Twins and White Sox games. If you are any kind of baseball fan, that puts a real damper on thinking is worth the investment.

    I’m holding my breath this year to see if FSN Twins coverage continues to be carried on Mediacom again in north Iowa. I am somewhat optimistic because I can get some Timberwolves and Wild games on FSN here, including their new second channel for when both are playing and being covered, but given the last year debacle and the report that Twins’ revenue from TV is much higher this year, I’m wondering if FSN has priced its Twins coverage too high for this market again.

    For what it is worth, Jim, last year I did my fair share of ranting on the phone, via email, etc. to the Twins, FSN, Mediacom and MLB. I may be in for another round soon.

  4. I don’t really understand all of the blackout issues but shouldn’t a portion of your anger be directed at your cable company?

    Small town, NW Iowa and our local cable company does carry FSN. But we’ve had Dish Network instead of cable for more than 10 years so I really haven’t run into many problems (okay, I do blame the late September 2010 slide on the Dish-FSN dispute). WIth our Dish package, we get most of the Twins, Royals, Cardinals and Brewers games. Plus many of the Cubbies (frankly, we may get all of the games the Cubs broadcast, I’ve just never been interested enough to figure it out). We did start getting less White Sox games last year when the Sox changed their broadcast partners.

    Dish now carries the mlbnetwork but obviously it doesn’t allow us to see the various out of market games like I think you can on the ‘net. There are times when I think that would be a good thing but frankly, between the various ESPNs, TBS, TNT and the various Fox sports channels we get, there is a lot of baseball saturation without adding mlbtv on the internet or adding some kind of extra Dish sports package.

    My biggest gripe is usually Fox National which seldom shows a Twins game on the Sioux City Fox affliate. They’ve apparently decided that Sioux City is a Cardinals-Cubs market.

  5. JB, not many cable companies are going to carry half a dozen different “regional sports networks” like FSN. In Cedar Rapids, they carry Comcast Sports Network, out of Chicago. That’s understandable, in that CSN provides some (but not all) Cubs and WhiteSox broadcasts. In areas like Waterloo/Cedar Falls, the Quad Cities and the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor, the two Chicago teams together clearly have a greater fan base than the Twins, Brewers, Cardinals and Royals, so while I’d love to have Mediacom start carrying FSN, that would do nothing for fans of the other nearby teams.

    Satellite is an option. Of course, there are a lot of condo associations, town house/apartment complexes, etc., that do not permit external dishes and, really, why should a fan HAVE to pay for satellite service these days?

    The bottom line, as DuPuy argued when he was still with MLB, is that the local networks’ rights should only be “protected” where they provide service. If FSN wants ALL of Iowa “protected”, let them make it worth the cable companies’ while to carry their network, at least on a “sports tier”. Hell, the YES Network has such an arrangement with Mediacom locally, so the regional FOX sports networks have no excuse not to do something similar if they want to retain their “exclusive” rights to the entire state.

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