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SBD/August 19, 2014/Media
MASN Gains Injunction Against MLB, Nationals, Barring Nats' Increased Rights Fee
Published August 19, 2014
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CONFLICTS OF INTEREST? During more than three hours of arguments, MASN and Orioles attorneys successfully argued to Marks that the RSDC comprised of executives from the Mets, Rays and Pirates did not represent a truly neutral third-party to mediate the dispute. Marks was also troubled by the status of Proskauer Rose having legal counsel relationships with several involved parties, including MLB and the Nationals. Arnold Weiner, attorney for the Orioles, called the MASN decision favoring the Nationals “the ‘Bush v. Gore of the RSDC, a made-up decision.” “We are pleased by the court’s decision enjoining the RSDC’s decision, which we have asserted was fundamentally flawed in process and result,” Weiner said. “Hopefully during this standstill Baseball and the Nationals will join MASN’s and the Orioles’ efforts to reach an amicable resolution.” The media rights fees dispute between the Nationals and Orioles stems from an ’05 settlement agreement between the Orioles and MLB that helped paved the way for the Expos to relocate to the nation’s capital. That agreement stipulated the Nationals could have their media rights payments reset every five years to reach “fair market value,” using a formula commonly used by the league for teams with equity interests in their own RSNs. The Nationals, however, argued before the RSDC that marketplace conditions for live sports rights dictated a far greater level of payments, and the club sought an annual average of $118M per year.
HOW IT'S BEING COVERED: In DC, James Wagner reports the Orioles and Nationals "are in the early stages of having their dispute heard by an American Arbitration Association panel." Attorneys for both teams and MLB "questioned which arbitration route was the proper one" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/19). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes under the header, "The Market? Shared. The Network? Divided." The subhead reads, "MASN Pits Orioles Against Nationals After Years of Coexistence." The Nationals-Orioles fight "is the result of an unusual partnership that was bound to implode." But it "serves as one surrogate" for the state of the RSN business, which "has grown into an essential part of the financial ecosystem of sports" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/19).