Friday, July 06, 2007

MLB Slaps ESPN on the Hand... [J. Mark English]

In essence, ESPN is being punished, or given a "timeout", for doing something bad in the eyes of MLB. Paul Gough of the Hollywood Reporter has more:

Major League Baseball has limited ESPN's access to Tuesday night's All-Star Game after the network broke an embargo and broadcast news of the players' selections a few minutes after an exclusive, rain-delayed telecast on TBS.

Baseball executives told ESPN that it must pare its broadcast efforts from AT&T Park in San Francisco, where the All-Star Game is being held. So, most coverage will be done out of ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Conn., rather than having "Baseball Tonight" and a portion of "SportsCenter" originate from California as planned.

ESPN doesn't have the rights to carry the All-Star Game -- those are Fox Sports' -- and didn't have the rights to carry an All-Star selection show, with those going to TBS as part of the new rights deal with Turner Broadcasting. ESPN had previously done the selection show.

Sources said MLB was angered after ESPN's "SportsCenter" on Sunday reported the National League rosters using an Associated Press story and the entire NL and American League rosters a few minutes after they were unveiled on TBS. No one was allowed to disclose the names until after the Turner show. Fans pick the starting players through a weekslong voting process.

Baseball executives have told ESPN that it cannot telecast from AT&T Park beyond an hour on Monday (not including the network's coverage of the Home Run Derby) and limited access to hours before Tuesday's game.

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