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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

ESPN: Manfred Predicts Resolution Of MASN Dispute

How long did Jarndyce v. Jarndyce take?

“I’m not going to say a lot about MASN because it is in litigation,” said Manfred, who took over from Bud Selig on Jan. 25. “I will say this much. I think in reasonably short order, there will be a resolution of MASN, either by the litigation being done or some other mechanism.”

When the teams couldn’t agree on what the Nats’ rights fees should be, they appeared before MLB’s Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee: Pittsburgh Pirates president Frank Coonelly, New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg.

The committee ruled last June 30 that MASN should pay the Nationals about $298 million from 2012-16, an average of just under $60 million—or approximately $20 million a year more than the current rights fee. When MASN didn’t comply with the arbitration award, the Nationals attempted to end the rights agreement.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hollywood Reporter: TV Broadcaster Challenges MLB’s Secret $25 Million Deal With Washington Nationals

The motion to vacate the arbitration ruling is largely premised on the role that Proskauer Rose played. The law firm represented the Nationals during the arbitration, but allegedly has conflicts — it has been involved in many MLB matters including the antitrust lawsuit over TV deals that is about to be presented to the 2nd Circuit. It represented the Mets in the Bernie Madoff affair, the Tampa Bay Rays in salary disputes with players, and much more.

In fact, on Monday, MASN told the judge that the law firm was “even more intertwined with MLB than was previously revealed,” counting 74 separate engagements, including 49 that occurred during the arbitration. These matters included representing the MLB in the Biogenesis investigation, in the dispute over the league’s one-year suspension of Alex Rodriguez and former MLB commissioner Bud Selig in the 2012 extension of his $22 million-per-year employment contract.

The Orioles and its broadcaster only threw up a number of soft objections to Proskauer’s involvement during the arbitration, but is now using its legal bat to drive home the point that MLB used the law firm to gain an illicit advantage over the arbitration process. The Nationals argue that MLB’s conflict of interest is “irrelevant” because the firm represented the league in unrelated matters, but the Orioles/MASN assert that MLB and Rob Manfred — who becomes the league’s new commissioner this month — “maintained almost complete control over the Arbitration and Award.”

And why exactly does the MLB care what MASN pays to the Nationals for the right to televise its games? If MLB used Proskauer to sway the arbitrators, what did MLB stand to gain from favoring one team over another?

As detailed in prior stories on this dispute, MLB privately paid $25 million to the Nationals to soothe team owner Ted Lerner’s own problems with being forced to license its games at a discount. Now, MASN tells the judge that the arbitration award must be vacated because “MLB had (and still has) a direct financial interest in the outcome.”

On Monday, Alan Rifkin, an attorney representing MASN, delivered an extraordinary sworn affidavit (read here in full) in the courtroom battle over TV money. It attempts to explain MLB’s stake.

Rifkin says he had discussions with Manfred — then the MLB’s chief operating officer — in August 2013. According to Rifkin, Manfred wrote that MLB had “resolved” the Nationals’ claim for additional telecast rights fees for 2012 and 2013 and that the league would “fund the entire cost of the resolution.”

At the time, Rifkin thought that MLB was going to pay the Nationals $7.5 million and believed this was a mistake because he says it “would only encourage the Nationals to believe that they were entitled to telecast rights fees in excess” of what the team deserved.

Only later, he says, did he learn that MLB had actually paid the Nationals $25 million. Manfred wanted to know if the Orioles would consider allowing the MLB to recoup the money through the proceeds of a sale of MASN, says Rifkin. The entreaty was allegedly rejected. ...

A spokesperson for MLB said the league had no comment about yesterday’s court filings. In prior papers filed by Manfred in the case, he wrote that MLB only plays a “support role” in the arbitration, that the process was well known by the Orioles, and that during the proceedings no party complained that it hadn’t been given an opportunity to present its case nor ever objected to the procedure.

JE (Jason) Posted: January 14, 2015 at 01:39 PM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: lawsuit, masn, nationals, orioles, peter angelos, tv rights

 

 

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