PITTSBURGH – Even the commissioner of baseball isn't immune to the sport's television blackout rules.
Bud Selig admitted Tuesday that he has been restricted from watching some games this season – and that he intends to change the policy that leaves some cities without as many as six baseball games each night.
"I don't understand (blackouts) myself," Selig said at a luncheon with the Baseball Writers Association of America. "I get blacked out from some games."
While he did not outline a plan, Selig said he had spoken with Major League Baseball about addressing the blackout issue.
"Right now," he said, "I don't know what to do about it. We'll figure it out."
More than 1,000 fans emailed Yahoo! Sports to voice their frustration with baseball's territorial-rights rules that black out games on the Extra Innings pay-per-view package and MLB.TV. The rules, developed about 40 years ago to protect teams' marketing areas, have fallen woefully out of date with a sport able to televise every game.
Instead, fans in Las Vegas cannot watch the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks. And no one in Iowa can watch the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals. And so on, all across the country.
In protest, fans have mobilized to send Selig letters of complaint. They seem to have finally found an advocate in the commissioner.
"I hear more about people who can't get the game," Selig said, "and, yes, I've already told our people we have to do something about it."
While Selig intends to take care of the territorial blackouts, he won't be doing anything about the blanket blackout on Saturday afternoon.
MLB agreed to a new seven-year contract with Fox Sports and Turner Sports worth more than $3 billion, according to sources. The parties announced the deal before Tuesday's All-Star Game.
Fox will keep the World Series, the All-Star Game and its Saturday-afternoon game, during which all other games are blacked out. That will remain the case, baseball president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy said, because of "exclusivity."
The World Series will begin the first Tuesday after the completion of the League Championship Series starting in 2007, possibly pushing the championship into the first week of November and setting up a schedule that sets games on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Fox will broadcast alternating LCS, with the American League in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013, and the National League in 2008, 2010 and 2012. "A significant number of people," Selig said, are in the running for LCS rights opposite Fox.
Starting in 2007, Turner will televise all the Division Series games, on TBS and TNT, and a new Sunday-afternoon game. There will not be a blackout Sunday afternoon, except in the host city of the teams playing.
- Bud Selig
- Major League Baseball
- commissioner of baseball