SBD/August 15, 2012/Media

Nationals, Orioles Remain At Odds Over Television Rights Fees From MASN

Talks between O's, Nats have already missed two deadlines for a MASN resolution
The Nationals and the Orioles remain "deeply divided over the amount of TV money the Nationals should be paid” by MASN, and the dispute has “called attention to their unusual television partnership ... and whether the Nationals could get a higher fee on the open market," according to James Wagner of the WASHINGTON POST. A source said that the Nationals are “asking for between $100 million and $120 million a year, a least three times the $29 million they received" from MASN last season. The net “proposed paying $34 million this season.” With the two sides “far apart, a panel composed of representatives of three other teams has been charged with reaching a settlement.” The talks have “dragged on for months and have already missed two deadlines for a resolution.” The Nationals’ stake in MASN “currently stands at 13 percent and last year’s equity stake payment is said to have been close to $7 million.” Orioles and MASN counsel Alan Rifken said, “We have great optimism, and correctly so, that contracts are honored by the people who signed them.” A source said that although it is extrapolated over the next 20 years, the Orioles and MASN "have offered the Nationals a deal in which the rights fees would increase about 7.7 percent each year.” In total, the 20-year average for their proposed deal “calls for a rights fee average of approximately $71 million a year.” A source said that with the MASN equity “stake increases, the Nationals would receive an average of about $100 million each year, giving the overall proposal a value of over $2 billion.” One potential way to “help solve the dispute would be to allow the Nationals to buy into a larger equity stake of MASN, up to 50-50 split between the teams” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/14).
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