Voila_Capture974Multiple sources tell me that Comcast SportsNet outlets everywhere – not just Philly – are cutting back on travel costs for beat writers, at least through 2014, due to budget concerns. Locally, I’m told this will impact road coverage of Phillies, Flyers and Sixers games. CSN may rely on local freelancers or AP reports in place of embedded team reporters or Insiders, who now, ironically, won’t be as inside as they were before.

Specifically as it relates to the Flyers, this will only affect coverage of a handful of games for the remainder of the season. For instance, I’m told Tim Panaccio won’t travel to Buffalo this week to cover the Flyers-Sabres game – even though he had been previously scheduled to do so – and that his corporate credit card has been canceled or taken away (it’s not known if this is a Tim-specific issue or part of CSN’s larger cost-cutting efforts). He’ll now have to file expense reports, and, as anyone within earshot in the press box can attest to, he’s apparently not happy about it.

This seems to be part of a larger NBC-ization of Comcast and Comcast SportsNet properties. Comcast and NBC have made several recent decisions that have directly impacted local sports, for better or worse.

The mega conglomerate believed the Great Sports Debate didn’t fit its brand, despite relatively decent local ratings.* So it was canceled.

*I’m biased because I was on the show. And I know many of you had your gripes about it. But the fact remains, they were happy with ratings.

Chris Wheeler was kicked out of the broadcast booth as a direct result of the Phillies’ new deal with CSN– and the new color guy will be a CSN employee, not a Phillies employee like the rest of the broadcasters.

CSN Philly has gobbled up NBC 10’s sports coverage.

I’m hearing Peter Luukko’s abrupt resignation had something to do with Comcast being uncomfortable with Comcast Spectacor’s finances.

And now the cost-cutting on road game coverage, which surely makes some financial sense, but also dilutes coverage for an outlet that champions its Insiders.

Overall, there is a very obvious NBC Network and Sports Talk theme that has pervaded CSN Philly and its website. I get what NBC is doing and why they’re doing it – they want consistency and to cut costs – but CSN Philly basically created the local model. Generally speaking, their TV and web coverage was pretty good. Now much of it feels like watered down, generic NBC stuff.