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FEDERAL JUDGE SIDES WITH BULLS OVER SUPERSTATION FEE
Published August 31, 1995
U.S. District Judge Hubert Will ruled in favor of the Bulls and Chicago's WGN-TV, "saying they will be able to pay lower fees than the NBA sought to broadcast Bulls games," according to today's WALL STREET JOURNAL. In January, Judge Will ruled that the NBA could impose a "reasonable fee" on the Bulls and WGN as compensation for airing games nationally on the cable superstation. But after the two sides failed to agree on that fee, a hearing was held in June. Will decided that the Bulls and WGN "should pay the NBA half of the revenue from broadcasts outside of the Chicago area, about $40,000 per game, rather than the over $100,000 the NBA sought under a formula it adopted in 1993." The NBA already receives $2M a year in copyright payments for broadcast of Bulls games over WGN. John McCambridge, attorney for WGN: "We're pleased that the judge rejected the NBA's attempt to impose a punitive tax that would have eliminated many Bulls games with Michael Jordan for viewers." NBA Senior VP/Legal & Business Affairs Jeffrey Mishkin: "Our view is that the right to telecast to a national market belongs only to the league." Mishkin said the fee issue will be considered as part of an ongoing appeal (Margarate Jacobs, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/31). TWO VIEWS: The CHICAGO TRIBUNE reports that WGN and the Bulls must pay the NBA $1.2M for last season's rights, but that the NBA's rejected fee proposal would have cost "three to six times more" (Steve Nidetz, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/31). An NBA release states that future fees "will be computed under a formula set forward by the court that should yield higher payments." Mishkin, in the release: "We are gratified that the Court confirmed the NBA's ownership of the games and its entitlement to a fee" (NBA).