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 NEW YORK (AP) -Baseball struck a deal to keep its ``Extra Innings'' package of out-of-market games on cable television, an agreement that likely will allow the sport's new TV network to be available in at least 40 million homes when it launches in 2009.
Baseball announced an exclusive $700 million, seven-year agreement with DirecTV on March 8, but during a hearing last week in Washington, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., pressed baseball to resume talks with iN Demand, which is owned by affiliates of Time Warner, Comcast and Cox. While baseball had set a March 31 deadline, the sides kept negotiating and announced an agreement Wednesday night.
``Our chief goal throughout the process was to ensure that fans would have access to as many baseball games and as much baseball coverage as possible,'' baseball chief operating officer Bob DuPuy said. ``With this agreement, the MLB Channel will launch with an unprecedented platform.''
As part of the agreement, iN Demand will make the ``Extra Innings'' package available to other cable companies, which also would be required to carry the MLB channel.
Baseball will continue to negotiate with Echostar's Dish Network, baseball spokesman Rich Levin said.
The dispute was largely over baseball's desire to have its network on a basic cable tier.

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