Nationals sought tripling of TV rights
fees from MASN

By JEFF BARKER | August 9, 2014 | The Baltimore Sun

The Washington Nationals sought television rights fees nearly three times what the team receives now from the Baltimore Orioles-controlled Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, according to documents unsealed by a New York court last week.

The documents were made available by the New York Supreme Court Commercial Division for New York County, which is hearing a dispute over the division of the rights fees the two teams receive from their shared TV network.

Both clubs now receive about $40 million a year in return for granting MASN permission to televise their games, but the Nationals were seeking an increase to $118 million, citing recent deals for other teams, according to the documents.

“Whether MASN claims it can afford it or not is irrelevant,” said a recent document filed on behalf of the Nationals. “That fair market value is neither negated nor constrained by MASN’s economics.”

Since the Nationals and MASN — which is majority-owned by the Orioles — disagree over the appropriate size of the rights fee increase, Major League Baseball referred the matter to a panel of three baseball owners.

The panel’s June 30 decision has not been made public, but several documents — including a court exhibit — say the award fell substantially short of $118 million. The court declined baseball’s request to seal the entire record, although portions of some documents are redacted.

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