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Media Guide: MASN, Comcast Settle Legal Battle

By Dave Hughes,

Area cable TV giant Comcast and the Baltimore-based Mid-Atlantic Sports Network have reached a settlement of their legal fight over carriage of the sports network.

Broadcasting And Cable reported MASN had alleged that Comcast discriminated against it by refusing to carry the TV home of the Orioles and Nationals in central Pennsylvania, southwestern Virginia, and "in various cable systems in smaller communities where Comcast has cable systems within MASN's territory." The Federal Communication Commission's Enforcement Bureau had previously said MASN had not made its case for mandatory carriage on Comcast systems in those regions.

Baltimore fans might soon be able to hear CBS sports talkers from D.C. (WJFK), New York (WFAN) and Philadelphia (WIP) on the digital HD radio subchannels of CBS’s 105.7 The Fan, WJZ-FM.

CBS radio execs are seriously thinking about giving sports talkers from throughout the northeast airing on the Baltimore frequency. However, an HD radio will be needed. Likewise, CBS might put WJZ-FM on an HD radio subchannel of D.C.’s 106.7 The Fan, WJFK.

Legendary D.C. sportscaster George Michael died Dec. 24 after battling cancer for two years. He was 70 and passed away at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C.

A native of St. Louis, Miss., Michael anchored the sports desk at Channel 4/WRC from 1980 to 2007. He also hosted numerous sports programs for the NBC station, including his nationally-syndicated "Sports Machine."

Previously, Michael was a DJ at New York City’s Top 40 outlet, WABC where he was noted for his boisterous personality and energetic style. Before that, Michael was the popular evening man at Philadelphia's Top 40 WFIL radio from 1966 until his move to WABC radio, where he also did sports work at sister WABC-TV before joining WRC.

"Checkbook journalism" was among the legacies of Michael, media columnist Dave McKenna at wrote. He said in one article: "Michael took a job with Dan Snyder's Redskins Broadcast Network shortly after Snyder bought the team, creating a blatant conflict of interest, since it meant he was now taking money from the Redskins, the most important subject on his WRC sports beat. And nobody at WRC blinked."

Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic has promoted Austin Krablin to senior director of creative services and marketing. During the past six months, Krablin has headed a complete overhaul of CSN's on-air look, including a new on-screen ticker, redesigned studio sets and an on-screen "scorebug" graphic for the network's Wizards telecasts.

Plus, he's helped overhaul Krablin joined CSN in 2004 as a producer and soon became manager of creative services. Before CSN, Krablin worked at D.C.'s Channel 9/WUSA plus two TV stations in Boston.

The Washington Nationals and Bonneville announced the addition of a new segment to their sixth season of the "Nationals On Deck" pregame radio broadcast. "The Manager's Show" will feature Jim Riggleman in his first full season as the Nationals manager.

Riggleman will join Nationals play-by-play hosts Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler for a five-minute conversation during each pregame radio show airing on Bonneville's WFED, Federal News Radio, 1500/820 AM. WFED also features "Nationals Insider" and "Nats Talk Live."

CORRECTION: In my previous online column for PressBox, a bit of copy got twisted to make it sound like MASN spokesman Todd Webster had previously worked with Comcast SportsNet. Whoops! Those words should have referred to Buck Martinez, who is leaving the Baltimore Orioles TV team on MASN for a gig with Rogers cable in Toronto. Back when the Orioles were on CSN, Martinez did call the games for them.

Posted: December 30, 2009