There is bad news for Baltimore-area Redskins haters: You're going to get plenty of televised games of our neighbors to the south, and there's not much you can do about it.
Simply put, there are two pretty good reasons -- one complicated and one simple -- why Baltimore football viewers will get a fairly heavy dose of the Redskins this fall.
* The Redskins are the closest team to Baltimore.
According to Val Pinchbeck Jr., the NFL's vice president of broadcasting and productions, the league has decided that a team's home area is the home city and a 75-mile signal penetration of a station in that city carrying games of that team, thereby making Baltimore a part of Washington's home area.
NFL rules require that a team's road games be carried in its home area, so when the Redskins are away, the Fox and/or NBC stations in their market, or in this case, Channel 45 and Channel 2, are required to telecast those games. That rule is set in stone.
With home games, Pinchbeck said, the rules aren't quite so rigid. If a game is sold out, a station, in consultation with the network, is free to carry that game or a game of another team, but most stations will choose to telecast a home team's game, which brings us to reason two:
* People in Baltimore watch the Redskins.
The Colts-Redskins rivalry may have been fierce in the 1960s, but in the '90s, it's an incontrovertible fact that Charm City viewers have embraced the Redskins, at least on TV.
According to 1993 Nielsen ratings, provided by Channel 11's Sharon Walz, the official ratings supplier to "On the Air," Sunday afternoon Redskins games won every head-to-head matchup, though on three Sundays, a game shown at a different time drew higher ratings.
Vince Wladika, a spokesman for Fox, which carries games of the NFC, to which the Redskins belong, said a full schedule of games that will appear on Channel 45 this season has not been drawn up, but added "it's a pretty safe bet" that most of them will be Washington games.
This Sunday, Channel 45 will carry the Philadelphia-New York Giants at 1 p.m. and Dallas-Pittsburgh at 4 p.m. Channel 2 will have the Seattle-Redskins game at 1 p.m., because the Seahawks are an AFC team, and NBC has the rights to AFC road games.
We'll have the ratings results in this space next week.
Saturday's Maryland-Duke season opener will be seen in the Florida cities of Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando and Panama City, but not in Baltimore.
And if that bothers you, imagine how Roger Roebuck feels. He's the director of syndication for Jefferson-Pilot Sports, which organizes the ACC's television network.
"Baltimore is a frustrating market for us," Roebuck said. "We really think the Atlantic Coast Conference is the conference of record in this area, but we have five stations that do not appreciate the value of ACC football."
Roebuck said Channel 13 will carry Maryland's home games with Florida State on Sept. 10 and with Wake Forest on Sept. 24 and may pick up the Terps' game at Virginia on Nov. 12, but will not have Saturday's game, opting instead to join ABC for third-round coverage of the Greater Milwaukee Open.
Channel 13 shouldn't shoulder all the blame here. The other network stations, channels 2 and 11, have commitments this weekend, but channels 45 and 54, which have, on occasion, carried sports programming, don't. Where are they in this equation?
The bottom line is if you want to see Maryland-Duke, you'll have to dig out the rabbit ears and tune in to Channel 7 in Washington.