MLB seeks creative solution to MASN rights fees dispute between Nationals, Orioles – The Post
After a long period of no news on the Washington Nationals television rights compensation some new information has come out:
Hoping to find a solution to the dispute between the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles over the value of the Nationals’ television rights, Major League Baseball has asked a private investment bank to seek potential new owners for the rights that are now held by the regional sports network controlled by Orioles owner Peter Angelos.
Allen & Co., a New York-based investment bank, is seeking buyers to acquire the two franchises’ broadcast rights from the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A new owner would essentially separate MASN and Angelos from the Nationals by creating a new regional sports network.
Fox Sports and Comcast are candidates to purchase the rights, according to one of the individuals. Both companies, Fox Sports in particular, have delved heavily into the regional sports network market.
Frankly, I’m kind of surprised MLB is being this aggressive. On one front, Bud Selig is never aggressive about anything, though coddling Angelos and the Orioles is a core competency. Cowardly Selig won’t use the “best interest of baseball” power to do right by Washingtonians, Nats fans, the District of Columbia (which made an enormous investment in a new ballpark) or baseball overall. Instead, Selig uses his power to coddle cowardly Angelos, who doesn’t believe that Baltimore will sufficiently support his baseball team. So, Selig gave Angelos 90% of the Nats television rights to Angelos. The Nats franchise picks up a 1% stake in MASN annually, but the deal as currently constructed limits them to owning no more than 66% about 25 years from now. Angelos still has to pay the Nats a rights fee annually (the same amount goes to the Orioles), but he’s trying to lowball it. While some huge market teams are getting close to $100 million annually, Angelos wants to limit both teams to around $35 million. Even Orioles fans see through this as nothing but Angelos trying to enrich himself (WNST) instead of building a successful franchise.
What I am kind of surprised by here, other than the delay in getting something figured out, is that MLB is trying to solve the problem now. That’s not Selig’s style first of all, but secondly Angelos is in his 80s. Ted Lerner, the principle owner of the Nats, is even older. I thought a figure for the next five seasons would be determined , everyone would grumble and the decision would be deferred five years from now when the players are likely going to be different. I wasn’t even opposed to that strategy necessarily, because I think it would favor the Nats since a new commissioner probably wouldn’t have pay so much deference to the Orioles ownership.
Overall, I’m glad to see more discussion about the situation of late. I was kind of out here on an island pointing out the bad faith out of Baltimore — fans used to be resigned to it and the D.C. media wasn’t doing anything about it. The latter may be due to the Orioles fanboys that seem still linger, but thankfully, this problem is finally getting some traction. I think it’ll be ugly and I hope that the longer it goes the better it works out for the Nats.
THOMAS BOSWELL: Dodgers’ spending spree means it’s time to get MASN deal done – The Post
Then again, Angelos may be going even harder: