DirecTV nears $700 mil baseball deal

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NEW YORK - Major League Baseball is nearing completion of a controversial $700 million deal with satellite purveyor DirecTV Group Inc. to exclusively air its out-of-market package of games for the next seven years, The Wall Street Journal reported.

For baseball, the deal may be worth the controversy because DirecTV is throwing in a valuable sweetener -- guaranteeing distribution for a TV network MLB plans to start in 2009, the Journal reported.

The proposed deal has upset fans and aroused opposition in Washington because it will disenfranchise an estimated 230,000 fans who previously watched the out-of-market games package -- known as Extra Innings -- on either DirecTV's satellite rival EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish network or on cable services, the Journal said.

If the deal goes through, fans will have to either switch to DirecTV or pay a fee to watch on MLB's Web site, the Journal reported.
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