St. Louis Sports Online

Eric Niederhoffer 

St. Louis SportsOnline

columnist & principal photographer

Seen Any Cardinals? 29 April 2003

It's a quiet evening in Carbondale, IL.

The Atlanta Braves are visiting the Houston Astros on WTBS, which serves as my Major League Baseball viewing entertainment this night. The St. Louis Cardinals are hosting the New York Mets on KMOX as my listening entertainment.

You may ask "Why this arrangement?"

I live in southern Illinois and as most people know, this is Cardinals territory.

But I ask, "Has anyone seen the Cardinals?"

Not lately and as Scott Puryear of the Springfield News-Leader writes, neither do local Springfield fans of the Kansas CIty Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals. Those fans typically tuned to Mediacom cable and clicked to Fox Sports Midwest.

No more. And money is the issue.

Here's a little history...

Two year ago (April 21, 2001), the Carbondale, IL City Council voted on a transfer of cable services from AT&T Broadband to Mediacom. Stipulated within the existing franchise agreement, the transfer could only be denied if there was a decrease in service. Because three new channels (Home Shopping Network, CSPAN and CSPAN2) were added to replace three eliminated St. Louis stations (NBC affiliate KSDK, WB affiliate KPLR and CBS affiliate KMOV), there was no violation of the agreement. An expansion was indicated also (Comedy Central, VH1 Country and VH1 Classic).

During the past two seasons, Cardinals baseball was carried by Fox Sports Midwest, Fox affiliate KBSI and an occasional game on ESPN. KMOX (AM 1120) and our local station (AM 1410) could be counted on for radio broadcasts.

So where does that leave us (me) in 2003?

Mediacom has determined that their concept of making money locally by offering low-cost commercials to local businesses is more profitable than providing access to the St. Louis market. The profits must be significant and have resulted in termination of Fox Sports Midwest coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals. There appears to be little local reaction.

Considering that the Cardinals are playing 0.500 ball, I wonder whether the actions of Mediacom will have any impact on local cable subscribers.

I have noticed a proliferation of Dish Network and DirecTV on many student apartments. One might come to the conclusion that market forces are in action.

We'll wait and see.


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