MASN has gone 2-0 in North Carolina in its effort to get Time Warner to carry the network on cable systems in the state's biggest markets. Yesterday, a second arbitrator appointed by the Federal Communications Commission ruled in MASN's favor, saying Time Warner Cable had discriminated against MASN in favor of other regional sports networks in which Time Warner had an interest.

A previous arbitrator had come to the same conclusion in January, but Time Warner claimed that arbitrator was biased, so a second one considered the matter. Still, MASN won again. So the cable customers of Charlotte and Raleigh soon can thrill to the mellifluous tones of Gary Thorne, right?

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Maybe not. Time Warner apparently will appeal to the FCC, possibly dragging this out until the end of the baseball season.

"We're confident that neither the FCC nor the courts will employ the erroneous legal standard adopted by the arbitrator," Time Warner spokeswoman Melissa Buscher told The (Raleigh) News & Observer. "We believe the FCC will be wary of using government authority to require carriage of a distant, high-priced, niche service that doesn't necessarily interest most of our customers."

Time Warner -- contending the Orioles and Nationals are distant teams that most of its subscribers don't care to watch -- wants to put MASN on a digital sports tier that would require customers to pay extra, The News & Observer reports.

MASN's attorney, David C. Frederick, told the newspaper: "You know, it's the classic thing. If you can't pound the facts, you pound the law; and if you can't pound the law or the facts, you pound the table. And Time Warner's pounding the table right now."

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