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July 11, 2006

Rich Levin

Allan H. "Bud" Selig

Tony Vinciquerra


RICH LEVIN: We have Commissioner Selig, FOX Networks Group President and CEO Tony Vinciquerra, Turner Sports President, David Levy, Major League Baseball President and Chief Operating Officer, Bob DuPuy and FOX Sports President, Ed Goren.
BUD SELIG: Thank you, Rich. Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us today for this very important announcement. We at Major League Baseball are very excited to continue our long and successful relationship with both FOX Sports and Turner Sports through the 2013 season.
Major League Baseball is more popular today than it has ever been. We have set attendance records in each of the last two seasons, and I believe we'll set another one this season.
The new contracts with FOX and Turner reflect the great popularity of our game, and reinforce baseball's position as the national pastime. As part of the new agreement, FOX will continue to maintain the exclusive annual rights to the World Series and the All-Star Game and will broadcast one League Championship Series in each year of the contract beginning with the American League in 2007 and alternating leagues through the term of the contract.
FOX will also expand it's regular season coverage and televise up to 26 Saturday Game of the Weeks, eight more than the network has broadcast during the course of the previous agreement.
The contract also provides that the World Series, starting in 2007, will play on the first Tuesday following the conclusion of the League Championship Series. Turner Sports will broadcast all Division Series games beginning in 2007, as well as regular season tie-breakers and the All-Star selection show.
Beginning in 2008, Turner will televise Major League games on 26 Sunday afternoons.
We at Major League baseball are very pleased to continue our relationships with both FOX and Turner. They have been excellent partners. They care about our sport, and they have been instrumental in helping us to grow the game. We appreciate their efforts and look forward to working with them for the remainder of this season, and in the next seven years. This, indeed, is a very happy day, I know, for Major League Baseball.
TONY VINCIQUERRA: Thank you, Commissioner. We indeed do love the sport of baseball. In fact, during the long negotiation to renew and extend the deal, we received, Ed Goren and I, we received much encouragement from everyone at FOX Sports to get this deal done because they love baseball and we are thrilled to be in business with baseball for another seven years. This year will complete 11 years and this will add another seven years of partnership to the game.
I want to thank the Commissioner and Tim Brosnan and Bob DuPuy and everyone else at baseball for dedicating themselves to getting this deal done and working diligently to make sure we found a deal that was fair for all parties involved and we do think we came to an agreement that is fair for all parties involved, including the broadcast network, FOX, and the stations owned by FOX, and the affiliates, who are thrilled to be in baseball as well.
This is a good fit for us at FOX on many, many levels. Our stations are so happy to continue to be the home of Major League Baseball, they were calling us to congratulate us once they knew the deal was done a week ago or so.
The schedule works for the entertainment deal as well. When the current deal was done 11 years ago, FOX was in a much different place. We had won the audience crown in the 18-49 demographic and we are very happy and we will continue to have baseball to promote that and because of the popularity and strength of our entertainment schedule we think it will be an even stronger partnership.
And continuing on as the MLB's broadcast partner complements what we do regionally and locally, like in Pittsburgh, FSN, we do that across the country coast to coast with other Major League teams and the complement of having the national broadcast agreement with the FOX Broadcasting Company and the regional agreements with our regional sports networks is just an amazingly strong one and works extremely well together. We are just really, really happy to be able to continue this relationship. Thank you, commissioner.
DAVID LEVY: I'd also like to thank Bud and Bob and Tim and Chris for allowing us to be part of the post-season of baseball. I look forward to working with them.
We have been with baseball for three decades now, either as owners of the team or through televised programming through Braves baseball and now we are looking to continuing that relationship to a fourth decade.
We are also looking to work with our new television, I won't call them partners, but friends, with Tony and Ed and will work on a marketing basis on how to figure out how to build this sport to an even bigger post-season than ever before.
From a Turner perspective, this is a big, landmark deal for us. We are not a 24-hour sports channel so we take a look at each of our opportunities and make sure it fits certain criteria. Certain criteria means it's good for the cable operator, it's good for our viewers and consumers and good for advertisers and marketers. Certainly post-season baseball as well as regular season baseball fits that criteria.
Having the opportunity to take the Division Series and put them exclusively on cable with no-over-the-air syndication to local markets to supplement, we really wanted and worked with baseball diligently to try to make that happen. So with that, we were pleased to be a part of this. We're pleased to grow this and we're looking forward to the next seven years.

Q. Commissioner, the FOX Network has picked up a handful of Tiger games for the first time this season in a long time. I want to get your thoughts on their surprising first half, and how good it is to have winning baseball back in that market.
BUD SELIG: Well, I've already covered that subject in about three different press conferences today. But let me say it again. It to me is the great number one story of the year so far. A wonderful story, to take a franchise in three short years from where it lost 119 games, and given Detroit's wonderful history in the sport, and Detroit is such a great baseball town, joking today, but with a lot of writers, we went there in 2004 to announce a game. It was the year -- it was the day of the blackout. We landed and the next thing we knew, we were having a tough time getting to Detroit to announce it. I've never been to an atmosphere that was worse. The team stunk, the city was in a blackout, everybody was depressed. And now it's the story of the year.
A wonderful, wonderful story and we're pleased.
TONY VINCIQUERRA: There may be a trend, the All-Star Game was in Houston and has a great season and now here we are in Pittsburgh, and we have affiliates in all these markets as well.

Q. What's going to happen with the LCS in the years it's not on FOX?
BUD SELIG: The only thing I can tell you about that, that's the last piece of the journey here to be solved, and there is an enormous amount of interest. I think that sooner or later, we'll finish that, too. We have a significant number of people who now really want to have the last component. So we'll be able to hopefully announce that in a very short period of time.

Q. It has been long speculated that St. Louis will host the All-Star Game in 2009. Is that close to being confirmed yet?
BUD SELIG: I don't have any announcements today on future All-Star games. I have a whole series of years to fulfill starting in 2008 and running up and we'll have an appropriate announcement on those years very shortly.

Q. Does the moving back of the first game of the World Series to a Tuesday, does that extend the post-season, and what was the reason behind that?
BUD SELIG: Well, it's so appropriate. That's the way it used to be. For years, we started on a weekend, everybody grumbled to me. I heard this years ago, and Tony and David and Ed certainly are more knowledgeable about that; but why do you do this on a Saturday night. It's awkward, it's a tough television night. So not only were we going to do it once during the World Series, but we're going to do it twice.
And I'm excited. We're going to do it Tuesday and Wednesday, off Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday. It could not have been better. It will be a better fit for us, better fit for them. We'll somehow work out the schedule so that that is not a problem.

Q. So there would not be four or five days between the LCS and the World Series?
BUD SELIG: We'll have to work the schedule out but I can assure you that it will work out very well.

Q. On both the Saturday and Sunday games of the week, are the blackout issues going to stay the same? Are they going to be blacked out until the evening games or what's the situation there?
BOB DuPUY: The Saturday games, yes. The Sunday games are not exclusive. The Saturday games will be essentially the way they are now in terms of blackout. If we move the times of games which are under discussion, we'll look at that, but there will still be a blackout on Saturday games.

Q. What's the reasoning behind the blackout on Saturday games?
BOB DuPUY: Exclusivity.

Q. With the new schedule, you have a situation where a fourth and fifth game will be on a weekend but if you went to a seventh game, that would be on a Wednesday night. Was the NFL part of your thinking behind that; you didn't want to go up against NFL games on Sunday?
BUD SELIG: Certainly not from our standpoint.
ED GOREN: First off, if you look at the current World Series schedule, I believe that the NFL went dark during the World Series on their Sunday broadcasts in the past. That very well may continue.
The difference is that number one, our ratings research shows that this schedule should generate higher ratings. The Commissioner had touched on the fact that starting on a Saturday night, having two Saturdays is a low viewership evening.
And the other factor, there's always an unknown when you get into a post-season series whether it's going to be five games, six games. We can't sell a seventh game very effectively on the come, or a sixth game. So this schedule, and if those games are on weekends, I know this is a shock to you, it's hard to find ad agency people around on weekends.
So what this effectively does is it gives our sales organization, in effect, a full day and a half, two days, to sell the Game 6, and then a Game 7.

Q. With this contract, will it become more difficult to reconsider to send your MLB players to the Olympic games in the future?
BUD SELIG: Would it be more difficult to send our teams to the Olympic games? Well, number one, of course that's an issue that we don't have to resolve right now. But the answer is unequivocally, no. It would not be more difficult.
But I have my own -- there are many reasons why we are not sending a team to the Olympics, because we are to the going to stop the season in the middle of the season, and this contract would include that. There are just other very valid reasons that in the middle of a pennant race to stop the season for a couple of weeks, is, as far as I'm concerned, intolerable.

Q. David, some weekends there have been as many as four Division Series games. How would TBS handle that?
DAVID LEVY: If there's an overlap, we will put it on TNT.
From the blackout question, we will be feeding in -- we won't be going blue screen. We'll be feeding an outside game to those two local markets on TBS.
BUD SELIG: Again, I want to thank Tony and Ed and David, certainly, Tim Brosnan, Bob and Chris, actually, everybody who has worked on this. This is really an historic day for us, and I'm very pleased that we've been able to preserve the relationships, because we've come a long way in developing this relationship and doing things that I think you would agree, all agree, that baseball was unwilling to do a decade ago or even five years ago. And I give our partners here a lot of credit for that, and we have all of our people, we all have a reason to feel very proud today. Congratulations.

End of FastScripts...

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