In yet another installment of the cable provider vs. cable network battle, we have another sports network on the precipice of being blacked out. In Washington, D.C., cable provider RCN has announced that it has reached an impasse with MASN and its sister channel MASN2, the regional sports network that carries both the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals. As a result, the networks will be blacked out on RCN effective July 1.

In a statement on its website, RCN claims that MASN is seeking “unfair increases” in its subscriber fees charged to the provider. It also adds that “Despite a decreasing viewership MASN is demanding forced carriage to those who chose not to subscribe to its programming.”

RCN also attacks MASN for the proposed fee increases:

MASN is proposing unfavorable terms that will eventually lead to an increase in ALL customers’ bills, not just the ones who watch the channel. And MASN2 is primarily used for a handful of overflow games when two regional sports teams are playing on the same day at the same time … We simply are unable to agree to the terms demanded by MASN.

In a response, MASN said it was hopeful the impasse would end soon.

We regret the inconvenience this will cause fans of MLB, Nationals, Orioles and MASN sports programming, and hope that RCN will be able to restore MASN programming to its customers in the future.

The Washington Post reports that RCN wanted to put MASN on a different tier, which would reduce the amount of homes it would be made available and, in turn, reduce the amount it would pay the RSN. MASN predictably wanted to remain in the same amount of homes. RCN is the smallest of the pay TV companies in the D.C. area, available in less than 15,000 homes in the market.

RCN and MASN are not scheduled to meet again any time soon, so the June 30 drop dead date appears to be quite in play. To make matters worse, MASN is not available online, so any blackout on RCN would literally leave subscribers in the dark, preventing them from watching the Orioles and Nats. At this point, there does not appear to be any end in sight to this dispute, though MASN should feel lucky that they’re not battling with a larger provider.

[Washington Post]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.