Deal reached to lift MLB playoffs blackout in V.I.


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ST. THOMAS — During the first week in October, baseball fans in the U.S. Virgin Islands will be able to take a break from the Weather Channel and forget about possible hurricanes for a few hours while they tune into the TBS Network for the Major League Baseball playoffs.

Major League Baseball and Turner Network Sales Inc. reached an agreement Monday to lift the blackout of the Divisional Playoffs and National League Championship Series to the USVI, Puerto Rico and other the U.S. territories.

“It goes into effect immediately,” Jeff Pomeroy, senior director of public relations for Turner Sports, said Tuesday. “The Virgin Islands will be able to watch all televised playoff games on TBS starting this year.”

The deal will coincide with the current television contract shared between TBS and MLB over the next four years.

“My people have told me that a deal has been done and signed,” MLB spokesman Jeff Heckelman said. “It starts this season and we are just glad to put all of this behind us.”

The MLB playoffs are scheduled to start Oct. 6.

Because of contractual issues, watching televised MLB postseason games in the territory has been sketchy since 2007.

For example, a deal was struck the day before last year’s playoffs started and the blackout was lifted. But for other previous seasons, MLB has prevented TBS from airing the postseason games outside mainland United States.

“I wouldn’t say it was a mishap,” Pomeroy said. “There was contractual issues involved. But we’ve worked through them and everything should be settled for the next four years.”

V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen has looked into the issue over the last few years. She said her office received a phone message from MLB on Aug. 6 that announced a deal lifting the blackout had been struck, but the official agreement was not confirmed until this week.

“We just need to get this issue resolved,” Christensen said two weeks ago.

FOX owns the rights to the AL Championship Series and the World Series, and those games have never been subject to a blackout. However, that network drew some ire from local baseball fans in July when without warning, infomercials were televised instead of the MLB All-Star Game.

Caribbean Broadcasting Network, which owns the FOX, NBC and WVGN television affiliates in the region, had a problem with the satellite feed from Los Angeles and lost transmission. The company apologized and described the lapse as an isolated incident.

But for at least the next four years, when playoff baseball heats up, Virgin Islanders won’t be forced to go to local restaurants or bars to view the action on a satellite feed.

“We certainty don’t want to lose any baseball fans in the Virgin Islands,” Heckelman said. “I think everyone is glad this deal is finally done.”

— Contact sports reporter Aaron Gray at 774-8772 ext. 352 or e-mail By AARON GRAY

Daily News Staff

ST. THOMAS — During the first week in October, baseball fans in the U.S. Virgin Islands will be able to take a break from the Weather Channel and forget about possible hurricanes for a few hours while they tune into the TBS Network for the Major League Baseball playoffs.

Major League Baseball and Turner Network Sales Inc. reached an agreement Monday to lift the blackout of the Divisional Playoffs and National League Championship Series to the USVI, Puerto Rico and other the U.S. territories.

“It goes into effect immediately,” Jeff Pomeroy, senior director of public relations for Turner Sports, said Tuesday. “The Virgin Islands will be able to watch all televised playoff games on TBS starting this year.”

The deal will coincide with the current television contract shared between TBS and MLB over the next four years.

“My people have told me that a deal has been done and signed,” MLB spokesman Jeff Heckelman said. “It starts this season and we are just glad to put all of this behind us.”

The MLB playoffs are scheduled to start Oct. 6.

Because of contractual issues, watching televised MLB postseason games in the territory has been sketchy since 2007.

For example, a deal was struck the day before last year’s playoffs started and the blackout was lifted. But for other previous seasons, MLB has prevented TBS from airing the postseason games outside mainland United States.

“I wouldn’t say it was a mishap,” Pomeroy said. “There was contractual issues involved. But we’ve worked through them and everything should be settled for the next four years.”

V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen has looked into the issue over the last few years. She said her office received a phone message from MLB on Aug. 6 that announced a deal lifting the blackout had been struck, but the official agreement was not confirmed until this week.

“We just need to get this issue resolved,” Christensen said two weeks ago.

FOX owns the rights to the AL Championship Series and the World Series, and those games have never been subject to a blackout. However, that network drew some ire from local baseball fans in July when without warning, infomercials were televised instead of the MLB All-Star Game.

Caribbean Broadcasting Network, which owns the FOX, NBC and WVGN television affiliates in the region, had a problem with the satellite feed from Los Angeles and lost transmission. The company apologized and described the lapse as an isolated incident.

But for at least the next four years, when playoff baseball heats up, Virgin Islanders won’t be forced to go to local restaurants or bars to view the action on a satellite feed.

“We certainty don’t want to lose any baseball fans in the Virgin Islands,” Heckelman said. “I think everyone is glad this deal is finally done.”

— Contact sports reporter Aaron Gray at 774-8772 ext. 352 or e-mail agray@dailynews.vi.

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