In a seven-page letter from DirectTV president Chase Carey to the FCC, Chase acknowledged that the satcaster and MLB have reached an agreement to make Extra Innings only available on DirecTV, saying "DirecTV's agreement". However, a company spokesman for DirecTV later stated that Carey's response was incorrect.
"The letter should have said proposed agreement. There is no agreement as yet," spokesman Robert Mercer said later.
As reported by Ronald Blum of the AP:
Carey said in his letter that an estimated 5,000 subscribers to the Extra Innings package would not have access to DirecTV, and he said there were 230,000 subscribers to the package last year outside of DirecTV. He also said DirecTV would make The Baseball Channel available when the network launches in 2009.
"Congress did not prohibit all exclusive arrangements," Carey wrote. "It only restricted exclusive arrangements that were the product of market power abuses -- those between dominant cable operators and cable-owned programmers."
Adding to the story, Richard Sandomir of the NY Times reports:
Robert Jacobsen, the president of In Demand, which is owned by Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Advance/Newhouse, said in a statement that cable operators had offered M.L.B. a “nonexclusive deal” with “better overall terms than the DirecTV offer,” which would have permitted Extra Innings to be available to at least as many cable and satellite subscribers as it is now.
“It’s hard to believe that M.L.B. would have so little respect for its fans,” Jacobsen said. A cable industry executive who was not authorized to speak publicly said that In Demand had matched DirecTV’s financial offer and that it would make the Baseball Channel, which is to start in 2009, available to slightly more than the 15 million subscribers promised by DirecTV.
Baseball hopes to announce the deal next week, but yesterday its lead negotiator, Tim Brosnan, an executive vice president, declined to comment.