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Braves' TV deal changes; games move off Peachtree TV

The 45 Braves games that have been televised locally on Turner Broadcasting’s Peachtree TV in recent seasons  will move to Fox Sports South and SportSouth this year.

The shift means that the two Fox-owned cable channels will have rights to all of the Braves’ local telecasts — 150-plus games per season — and that Turner will be out of the Braves TV business for the first time since the mid-1970s. It also means the last of the Braves’ telecasts are moving from a free over-the-air station, which Peachtree TV is in Atlanta, to cable.

The change came as a result of the Braves and Turner Broadcasting ending their agreement on the 45-game package, and the Braves reaching a deal to consolidate those games with the other 105-plus already shown on the Fox channels, according to Braves executive vice president Derek Schiller.

Neither the Braves nor Fox would reveal terms of the deal. But the Braves acknowledged it will somewhat improve their local TV revenue, which has been a source of concern because of long-term contracts signed before a recent explosion in rights fees.

“Suffice it to say that this is a better deal for us,” Schiller said. “But we’re only talking about 45 games.

“We’re not reopening all 150. It would be improper to compare and contrast this against some of those teams that have had the opportunity to open up all 150 of their games and bring them to a competitive marketplace and start anew. This is not that.”

This season’s plan is to televise 72 Braves games on Fox Sports South and 80 on SportSouth, said Jeff Genthner, the networks’ senior vice president and general manager. The numbers can fluctuate depending on how many Braves games are picked up by Major League Baseball’s national TV partners.

The latest change in the Braves’ TV picture completes a long trend of the team’s games moving away from Turner networks.

The Braves became known as “America’s Team” when almost all of their games were televised nationally on TBS, beginning in the 1970s. The number of Braves games on TBS declined gradually over the decades as many shifted to regional cable — first Turner owned-networks and later Fox’s. Turner Broadcasting took Braves games off national TBS entirely after the 2007 season.

In 2008, Peachtree TV — available in the Atlanta market — began airing the 45-game package. In 2011, Turner turned over daily management of the station to Meredith Corp. At the same time, Turner entered into an agreement for Fox to produce and sell advertising for Peachtree TV’s Braves telecasts, as well as to air them in the Southeast outside the Atlanta market.

The latest step is the natural progression of the earlier moves, Schiller said.

“It does show the evolution of (Turner’s) business as well as our own business,” Schiller said. “We have nothing but fond memories of what Turner has accomplished as a partner with the Braves and as a former owner of the Braves. But their business has evolved to the point where they’re more concentrated on some of their other, primarily national networks.

“As much as we’re fond of the way Turner has handled us in the past, we’re excited about the future of combining all 150 games with one entity.”

Turner spokeswoman Misty Skedgell said in a statement that the company reached the agreement with the Braves to assign Peachtree TV’s rights to the games “in exchange for other consideration.”

The only way for a regular-season Braves game to appear on a Turner network this season is as part of TBS’ national Sunday-afternoon MLB package.

Schiller and Genthner said viewers will benefit from finding the Braves’ local telecasts on two channels instead of three, but the removal of games from Peachtree TV continues the trend of sports events shifting off free television.

Genthner said Fox Sports South’s Braves telecasts will be “primarily weighted” toward Friday-Saturday-Sunday games and SportSouth’s toward Monday-through-Thursday games “to cultivate a sense of appointment viewing.”

Chip Caray and Joe Simpson will continue to call the games.

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Associated Press writers Vivian Salama, Eric Tucker and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.
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  • Tragedy struck a Florida family within days, leaving three children without their parents. Days after a man was shot and killed, his girlfriend died from complications after giving birth to twins. >> Read more trending news On July 11, 26-year-old Jevaughn Suckoo was found shot and killed in the West Palm Beach apartment complex where he lived with his nearly 2-year-old daughter and pregnant girlfriend, Stephanie Caceres. Three days later, Caceres gave birth to their twins, Jevaughn Jr. and Lailah. On Wednesday, she died — the same day as Suckoo’s funeral. Family said she died from an infection from her C-section. As family and friends mourn the couple, they are also thinking about the futures of their three children. At Juan E. Batista Pediatrics in Lake Clarke Shores, where Caceres worked for four years, family, friends and coworkers gathered Thursday in front of dozens of donations given to the family in the wake of the sudden deaths. Office manager Lina Niemczyk, Caceres’ mother, Irma Meza, and Suckoo’s aunt, Joni Saunders, all spoke about the couple and their children. “We’re just trying to figure out how to move forward from here,” Saunders said. Niemczyk said Caceres had “an excellent work ethic” and was her “right and left hand” in the office. Niemczyk said the office and their patients are like a family, so everyone came together to gather items and money for Caceres’s children. “Our goal is to secure their future,” Niemczyk said. “It’s a promise to their mom and dad.” Police have made no arrests in Suckoo’s death. A day after Caceres gave birth to the twins, she took to Facebook to express her distress. “I just don’t understand how someone can have the heart to leave three kids without a father especially two that never got the chance to even meet him,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “They didn’t deserve this! I’m trying I really am to stay strong but this has to be the toughest battle I’ve ever had to fight.” A GoFundMe Page has been started for the three children.
  • The Senate's decisive vote to approve a new package of stiff financial sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea sends the popular bill to President Donald Trump, who will be under pressure to sign it after weeks of intense negotiations. Trump's likelihood of supporting the measure is a remarkable concession that the president has yet to sell his party on his hopes for forging a warmer relationship with Moscow. Trump's vow to extend a hand of cooperation to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been met with resistance as skeptical lawmakers look to limit the executive power's leeway to go easy on Moscow over its meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The Senate passed the bill, 98-2, two days after the House pushed the measure through by an overwhelming margin, 419-3. Both are veto proof numbers as the White House has wavered on whether the president would sign the measure into law. Never in doubt, however, was a cornerstone of the legislation that bars Trump from easing or waiving the additional penalties on Russia unless Congress agrees. The provisions were included to assuage concerns among lawmakers that the president's push for better relations with Moscow might lead him to relax the penalties without first securing concessions from the Kremlin. The legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the bill's passage was long overdue, a jab at Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress. McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has called Putin a murderer and a thug. 'Over the last eight months what price has Russia paid for attacking our elections?' McCain asked. 'Very little.' Trump had privately expressed frustration over Congress' ability to limit or override the power of the president on national security matters, according to Trump administration officials and advisers. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations. But faced with heavy bipartisan support for the bill in the House and Senate, the president has little choice but to sign the bill into law. Trump's communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, suggested earlier Thursday on CNN's New Day that Trump might veto the bill and 'negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians.' Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said that would be a serious mistake and called Scaramucci's remark an 'off-handed comment.' If Trump rejected the bill, Corker said, Congress would overrule him. 'I cannot imagine anybody is seriously thinking about vetoing this bill,' said Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 'It's not good for any president — and most governors don't like to veto things that are going to be overridden. It shows a diminishment of their authority. I just don't think that's a good way to start off as president.' Still, signing a bill that penalizes Russia's election interference would mark a significant shift for Trump. He's repeatedly cast doubt on the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia sought to tip the election in his favor. And he's blasted as a 'witch hunt' investigations into the extent of Russia's interference and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow. The 184-page bill seeks to hit Putin and the oligarchs close to him by targeting Russian corruption, human rights abusers, and crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports. The bill underwent revisions to address concerns voiced by American oil and natural gas companies that sanctions specific to Russia's energy sector could backfire on them to Moscow's benefit. The bill raised the threshold for when U.S. firms would be prohibited from being part of energy projects that also included Russian businesses. Lawmakers said they also made adjustments so the sanctions on Russia's energy sector didn't undercut the ability of U.S. allies in Europe to get access to oil and gas resources outside of Russia. The North Korea sanctions are intended to thwart Pyongyang's ambition for nuclear weapons by cutting off access to the cash the reclusive nation needs to follow through with its plans. The bill prohibits ships owned by North Korea or by countries that refuse to comply with U.N. resolutions against it from operating in American waters or docking at U.S. ports. Goods produced by North Korea's forced labor would be prohibited from entering the United States, according to the bill. The sanctions package imposes mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The measure would apply terrorism sanctions to the country's Revolutionary Guards and enforce an arms embargo. Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., voted against the sanctions bill. ___ Contact Richard Lardner on Twitter: http://twitter.com/rplardner
  • Republican plans to approve a slimmed down bill to overhaul the Obama health law abruptly ran aground early on Friday morning in the U.S. Senate, as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) refused to support a last minute “skinny” GOP bill, forcing Republican leaders back to the drawing board in their quest to get a bill to the President’s desk to rewire America’s health care system. “I thought it was the right vote,” McCain told reporters as he left the Senate floor. Outside, there were cheers as the Arizona Senator – who has bedeviled members of both parties through his years – went home shortly after 2 am. Here is how it looked from the halls of the U.S. Capitol: 1. McCain goes Maverick on health care. When the vote on the GOP ‘skinny bill’ was set to begin at about 12:35 am, it was obvious that Republicans might not have the votes to prevail, as Vice President Mike Pence lobbied McCain, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). But all three stuck to their guns, and torpedoed the GOP effort on health care. McCain was the key, as he attracted the most attention from the Vice President during a 45 minute delay on the Senate floor. The Arizona Republican had made clear for days that he didn’t like the process, he didn’t like the details of the ‘skinny’ bill, and he wanted to see more bipartisan cooperation. McCain had his GOP colleagues gritting their teeth. McCain leaving the Capitol asked why he voted NO: 'I thought it was the right thing to do.' — Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) July 28, 2017 2. Republicans stunned by health care setback. The looks on the faces of GOP Senators told the whole story on the Senate floor, as the realization hit home that McCain was not going to vote with them. After the vote it was grim in the hallways just off the Senate floor. “It was a big setback,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said tersely. “This is sad,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). The normally chatty Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) pushed through a crowd of reporters without saying anything. “No, I don’t want to talk right now, Jamie,” Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) flatly said to me as he headed back to his office. What’s next now for the GOP on health care? “No big reforms,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). “That unfortunately will not occur.” 3. An unhappy President Donald Trump. After showering McCain with praise earlier in the week, when the 2008 Republican nominee for President returned to cast the key vote to begin this debate, Mr. Trump had to watch as McCain threw the bill into a Legislative Ditch. At 2:25 am, the President got on Twitter to issue his first reaction, taking the 51 Senators in both parties to task, and again repeating his threat to simply stand off to the side and watch the individual exchanges go down the drain. It’s not clear whether the White House will sanction bipartisan negotiations on health care, but it’s hard to imagine that this issue is just going to melt away. 3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017 So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave – American hero! Thank you John. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017 4. Zombie health care bill. I have cautioned my colleagues for months not to declare this GOP effort dead, and I will repeat that advice again, even in the wake of this defeat on the Senate floor for Republicans. All it takes is one deal to flip McCain, Murkowski or Collins, and the GOP would be back in business. Remember, lots of people thought Speaker Ryan was wrong to keep pushing in the House, but then he suddenly found the votes for a bill that many thought was dead in early May. I wouldn’t write off that possibility in the Senate, especially if Republican Governors – like McCain’s in Arizona – get more involved in the process. All it takes is one vote, and it could be the Democrats looking glum. “We’re going to have to pick up the pieces and keep going,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). The bill is not dead – McConnell just returned it to calendar. — julie rovner (@jrovner) July 28, 2017 5. Can there be any real bipartisan deal making? There have been talks for some time among Senators who are former Governors and insurance commissioners in both parties – now we’ll see if those gain more traction in a bid to find common ground to do something on health care. Some like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) have been talking about brokering a bipartisan deal for months – Manchin told reporters repeatedly that he didn’t think those efforts would have a chance until the GOP lost a vote in the Senate. Now we’ll see if anything changes on that front. I ask each & every one of my colleagues to search their hearts for what their purpose of being here is. We must work in a bipartisan manner. pic.twitter.com/KSdEANa0gE — Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) July 28, 2017 6. The demonstrators outside the Capitol. When I went out to grab some dinner around 7 pm, I was surprised at how few people were outside the Capitol; I had expected a larger crowd with the health bill ready to come to a vote. Well, the size of the crowd did grow in the hours after that, and when the GOP ‘skinny’ bill was defeated, you could hear the roars from outside echoing back into the halls of the Senate. Just as it was a defeat for Republicans, it was a victory for Democrats and progressive groups, which had worked hard to try to preserve the Obama health law. The House victory for Republicans on health care in early May had been a bitter setback for Democrats. This time, those opposed to GOP reform plans enjoyed the moment. Here's the moment the crowd outside the Capitol learned Republicans didn't have the votes. pic.twitter.com/vawKkdygoY — Emma Roller (@emmaroller) July 28, 2017 7. What was in the “skinny” GOP bill? If you went to bed at a reasonable hour on Thursday, you missed the two hour life span of the new GOP proposal, the “Health Care Freedom Act.” After complaining for seven years (in many ways incorrectly), that Democrats had abused the legislative process in the passage of the Obama health law, Senate Republicans made the Democrats look like pikers. The bill surfaced just after 10 pm, there was two hours of debate, and then a vote. In between, a report surfaced from the Congressional Budget Office. Yes, the bill was only 8 pages long, but it was a brand new proposal that had suddenly emerged, with little time to be evaluated. Don’t overlook these details – as I mentioned above, they could resurface at any time in the future.
  • Dealing a serious blow to President Donald Trump's agenda, the Senate early Friday rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama's health care law after a night of high suspense in the U.S. Capitol. Unable to pass even a so-called 'skinny repeal,' it was unclear if Senate Republicans could advance any health bill despite seven years of promises to repeal 'Obamacare.' 'This is clearly a disappointing moment,' said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. 'I regret that our efforts were not enough, this time.' 'It's time to move on,' he said. The vote was 49-51 with three Republicans joining all Democrats in voting 'no.' McConnell put the health bill on hold and announced that the Senate would move onto other legislation next week. Trump responded on Twitter: '3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!' A key vote to defeat the measure was cast by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who returned to the Senate this week after receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer. In an impassioned speech the day he returned, McCain had called for bipartisanship on major issues of national concern, and a return to the 'regular order' of legislating by committee. Two other Republicans — Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — joined McCain and all Democrats to reject the amendment, which would have repealed a mandate that most individuals get health insurance and would have suspended a requirement that large companies provide coverage to their employees. It would have also suspended a tax on medical devices and denied funding to Planned Parenthood for a year. On Twitter, McCain said the repeal bill 'fell short of our promise to repeal & replace Obamacare w/ meaningful reform,' adding, 'I hope we can rely on humility, cooperation & dependence on each other to better serve the people who elected us.' The amendment was a last resort for Senate Republicans to pass something — anything — to trigger negotiations with the House. 'It's time to turn the page,' said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York. 'We are not celebrating. We are relieved.' Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said in a statement that the Trump administration would pursue its health care goals through regulation. 'This effort will continue,' Price said. But insurers, hospitals, doctors, and consumer groups are pressing the administration to guarantee billions of dollars in disputed subsidies to help stabilize insurance markets around the country. Buoyed by a signal from House Speaker Paul Ryan, McConnell had introduced a pared-down health care bill late Thursday that he hoped would keep alive Republican ambitions to repeal 'Obamacare.' McConnell called his measure the Health Care Freedom Act. It was not intended to become law, but to open a path for a House-Senate conference committee to try to work out comprehensive legislation Congress could pass and send to Trump. The Congressional Budget Office said the amendment would have increased the number of uninsured people by 16 million, the same problem that vexed all the 'repeal and replace' measures Republicans have offered. Obama's law extended coverage to some 20 million people, reducing the nation's uninsured rate to a historic low of around 9 percent. Still, Ryan, R-Wis., had seemingly opened a path for McConnell earlier Thursday by signaling a willingness to negotiate a more comprehensive bill with the Senate. Some Republican senators had been concerned that the House would simply pass McConnell's 'skinny bill' and send it to Trump. That would have sent a shock wave through health insurance markets, spiking premiums. Ryan sent senators a statement saying that if 'moving forward' requires talks with the Senate, the House would be 'willing' to do so. But shortly afterward, his words received varied responses from three GOP senators who'd insisted on a clear commitment from Ryan. 'Not sufficient,' said McCain, who returned to the Capitol Tuesday. The 80-year-old McCain had been home in Arizona trying to decide on treatment options for brain cancer. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., initially said 'not yet' when asked if he was ready to vote for the scaled-back Senate bill. But later, he told reporters that Ryan had assured him and others in a phone conversation that the House would hold talks with the Senate. 'I feel comfortable personally. I know Paul; he's a man of his word,' said Graham. As the convoluted developments played out, the slender 52-48 GOP majority was divided among itself over what it could agree to. Democrats were unanimously opposed. After a comprehensive 'repeal and replace' bill failed on the Senate floor, and a straight-up repeal failed too, McConnell and his top lieutenants turned toward the 'skinny repeal.' It was to have been the ticket to negotiations with the House, which had passed its own legislation in May. Opponents mobilized quickly against McConnell's new strategy. The insurance company lobby group, America's Health Insurance Plans, wrote to Senate leaders Thursday saying that ending Obama's requirement that people buy insurance without strengthening insurance markets would produce 'higher premiums, fewer choices for consumers and fewer people covered next year.' And a bipartisan group of governors including John Kasich of Ohio and Brian Sandoval of Nevada also announced against it. So did the American Medical Association. Numerous polls had shown little public support for the GOP's earlier proposals to repeal and replace Obama's law. A recent AP-NORC poll found only 22 percent of the public backing the Republican approach, while 51 percent were opposed. In the end the misgivings of a few Republican senators derailed the GOP's seven-year quest to roll back 'Obamacare.' It remains to be seen whether a bipartisan deal can now be reached to stabilize insurance markets that have been rattled by rising premiums and insurer exits. The dizzying series of legislative maneuvers this week left even veteran senators puzzled. 'We're in the twilight zone of legislating,' said Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. ____ Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Stephen Ohlemacher and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.