SBD/9/Sports Media

YANKEES AGAINST GIVING REBATES TO MSG FOR REPLACEMENT GAMES

     Despite MSG Network's "plea for financial relief if
replacement Yankees play into the regular season," the team
insists that it will not rebate a cent of the cable network's
estimated $42M payment for the Yankees' TV rights.  Richard
Sandomir notes that by taking the same position with WABC-radio,
which pays the team $5M annually, the Yankees will have a $47M
fund for the season when gate, concession, parking and national
TV revenues decline "precipitously while replacement players are
used."  Yankee General Counsel David Sussman, on MSG:  "There's a
clear agreement between the parties that we have no obligation to
give refunds.  There's a risk in every agreement."  MSG's acting
head Marty Brooks, noting the team cut its ticket prices 50%:
"We were very encouraged when they reduced ticket prices, that
they acknowledged the reduced value.  This is a time bomb that
can be defused any day, but it could set the tone for our future
relationship.  We intend to resolve this equitably."  MSG and the
Yankees are entering the seventh year of a 12-year $486M
contract, by far the largest in baseball.  Sandomir notes with
ITT's pending takeover of MSG (ITT owns Cablevision Systems,
parent of SportsChannel), the Yankees may have to negotiate their
next local TV contract with one entity that controls both
regional cable systems.  The Mets and SportsChannel held talks on
rights fees last month, "but tabled them" until a later date
(N.Y. TIMES, 3/9).
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