Washington Post writer James Wagner recapped the origins of the dispute over TV rights fees between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals last winter, summing up a convoluted story that began when Major League Baseball moved the Montreal Expos to D.C. in 2004-2005, and gave O's owner Peter Angelos and his sports network the rights to broadcast Nationals games.":
"It was an arrangement unique in professional sports struck to placate Angelos, who argued the new franchise was moving into the Orioles’ exclusive commercial and broadcast region.
"Under the arrangement, the network would remain under the Orioles’ majority control, with the Nationals’ share rising over a period of years to a maximum of 33 percent. The rights fees for both teams were to be reset every five years, beginning last year [in 2011]."
The two sides failed to reach an agreement on the rights fees, however, with the Nationals reportedly asking for around $100-$120M instead of the $34M MASN proposed, as the WaPost's Mr. Wagner reported last winter, and in spite of MLB's intervention, the issue remains unresolved to this day.
MLB Commisioner Bud Selig addressed the dispute at last summer's All-Star Game, telling reporters, as quoted by the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly, that the two sides continued to talk:
"'Have spent a lot of time talking to both clubs, and even very, very recently, and we continue to do that and hope that we’ll have some type of resolution and we’ll continue to work at that,' Selig said. 'Really, it’s been a difficult situation but I’m always hopeful that we can work out a resolution and we are working on that right now.'"
The dispute, however, as Selig told reporters, is a difficult one to settle. "'Let’s put it this way, it’s not an easy situation to resolve,' Selig said," according to the Baltimore Sun's Mr. Connolly.
According to a report on the Orioles by Grantland writer Jonah Keri this afternoon, Major League Baseball has been compensating the Nationals as the two sides work on the issue in order to keep Washington from taking the the matter to court:
"For now, the MASN status quo remains. The Nationals aren’t completely helpless, though: According to a source close to the Washington franchise, MLB has sent the team an undisclosed sum every year to help bridge the gap, and to prevent the Lerners from taking matters to court, until the deal becomes more balanced."
"At some point I think the [Nationals] in conjuction with baseball [are] going to have to buy [Peter Angelos] out of this deal," author Bruce Schoenfeld told Baltimore Business Journal writer James Briggs on a podcast earlier this winter which discussed a Baltimore Business Journal report on Peter Angelos.
Will Bud Selig work to have this situation settled before he steps down next January?
• Read the entire piece on the Orioles by Grantland's Jonah Keri below:
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