SBD/September 7, 2012/Media

Silna Brothers Seek More NBA Broadcast Money Under Terms Of ABA-NBA Merger Deal

Ozzie and Daniel Silna, owners of the defunct ABA franchise Spirits of St. Louis, are seeking to “tap into the money the league gets from international broadcasts, NBA TV, the league’s cable network, and other lucrative deals that could not have been imagined in the three network television universe of 1976,” according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. That year, the Silna brothers “agreed to be paid a small fraction of the NBA’s television money to comfort them for being cut out” of the ABA-NBA merger. Lawyers for the Silnas and the NBA in Manhattan federal court on Thursday “argued over whether the men are owed money beyond what they get from the NBA’s national broadcast and cable television contracts.” If District Court Judge Loretta Preska agrees with the Silnas, they “stand to receive millions more, all without having assembled a team or used an arena for more than three decades.” Sandomir writes the Silnas' deal was “an underappreciated wrinkle” in the merger, and their “haul has been substantial" -- $255M and counting. In ‘80-81, the first season the Silnas were "eligible to get their share" court documents reveal they received $521,749, and for the '10-11 season, they received $17.45M. Preska gave the NBA “more time to make its case and urged both sides to settle.” But her comments “seemed to indicate that she was inclined to side with the Silnas, two brothers who might be the savviest owners the NBA never had” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/7). NBA attorney Jeffrey Mishkin said according to the agreement, "You get network television revenues -- and that's all you get." He added the NBA "has never not met its obligation.” The Silnas' attorney Michael Carroll countered that “wording in the settlement referring to revenue from ‘all broadcasts’ should be interpreted to include more modern TV offerings like NBA League Pass, which allows viewers to see out-of-market games” (AP, 9/6).
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