TBS signs on to air LCS games

TBS signs on to air LCS games

ST. LOUIS -- The Turner Broadcasting System has reached a seven-year agreement with Major League Baseball to broadcast the National League Championship Series and American League Championship Series in alternating years from 2007 to 2013.

The new deal, revealed on Tuesday by both parties, marks the first time that either the NLCS or ALCS will be the exclusive property of a cable network. Until now, both series, which were born in 1969, have been shown on broadcast television in the United States.

"This made a great deal of sense," Commissioner Bud Selig said during a conference call. "That's a very, very attractive part of our entire postseason landscape."

TBS will have the NLCS in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 and the ALCS in 2008, 2010 and 2012. As part of another deal reached earlier this summer, FOX will continue to broadcast the ALCS, in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013, and the NLCS, in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Fox will also continue to carry the All-Star Game and the World Series on its over-the-air network through 2013.

"We at Turner believe that the television landscape has changed," David Levy, president of Turner Sports, whose TBS and TNT networks reach 90 million cable subscribers, said on the call. "The lines between cable and broadcast television are now virtually non-existent. They are less defined as distinct, different properties."

TBS had previously agreed to broadcast 26 regular season games on Sunday afternoons, beginning in 2008. Also, beginning in 2007, TBS will telecast all regular-season tiebreaker games, all Division Series games and the All-Star Game Selection Show each year. Any conflicts between games starting at the same time will be resolved by rolling postseason games over to TNT, Levy said.

"We'll have to work out all the scheduling or problems that we have," Selig said. "I kind of hate when we put two games on at the same time. So we'll try to make all the adjustments that we can. And for the most part we've been able to work that out."

The TBS regular-season slate will replace the 70 Atlanta Braves games, which will disappear from its menu after the 2007 season. Turner, which still owns the Braves, is hoping to divest itself of the club by the start of the 2007 season. Liberty Media has been in negotiations to purchase the team, which moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee in time for the 1966 season.

Selig said that there was no timetable for the sale of the team.

"I try not to make predictions on that score," Selig said. "There's no question that we're making progress. It could happen [at the owners meetings] in November or January. I'm not sure right now. But we're definitely heading toward a resolution of this whole situation."

Ted Turner, the former owner of the Braves, NBA Hawks and the cable network, hatched the concept of placing his baseball team on what was then called a cable "Super Station," which broadcast the games nationally for the first time, not long after he bought the team in 1976.

In the aftermath, Turner was demonized by the other baseball owners, who believed that the Braves were encroaching on their local television territory.

"I remember it well," said Selig, who owned the Brewers back then. "It stunned the other owners. There are many who thought it would be the death knell of our sport. There was a lot of concern. In fact, [Turner] helped the sport. The sport has never been more popular. There are a lot of factors at work, but Ted's enlightened television policy didn't hurt anything at all. He played a great role in the maturing of the relationship between television and MLB."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.