Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Selig won't second-guess Nats TV rights

US Presswire photo
Commissioner Bud Selig is trying to negotiate a TV deal between the Nats and Orioles.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Though he could offer no details about the Nationals' ongoing television rights fee conflict with the Orioles, baseball commissioner Bud Selig expressed some frustration today that there has been no resolution to a dispute that should have been settled months ago.

"We are in the midst of very intense discussions," Selig said during his annual All-Star Q&A lunch with members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "That's all I can tell you. Very intense."

Asked if there's a timetable for the issue to be resolved, the commissioner cracked: "Yeah, about a month ago. But we'll keep moving that ahead until we get [a resolution], as quickly as possible."

The ongoing dispute stems from a provision in the Nationals' contract with MASN (the majority of which is owned by the Orioles) that allows them to renegotiate their annual rights fee every five years. The Nationals, who last year earned $29 million from the network, are asking for about three times as much in rights fees; the Orioles are offering tens of millions of dollars less.

Unable to resolve the dispute on their own, the two clubs are now at the mercy of a three-person committee from the commissioner's office. Selig's office initially set a June 1 deadline for a resolution, which was later pushed back to July 1. A deal still has not been struck.

Selig was influential in the original negotiation of a deal that was designed to placate owner Peter Angelos in exchange for allowing the Montreal Expos to move to what had been classified as the Orioles' market in late 2004. The deal stipulated that the Orioles owned 90 percent of the newly formed TV network, with the Nationals' share slowly rising to as much as 33 percent over decades.

Selig was asked today whether he's troubled at all by the fact a Nationals franchise that is growing in popularity has its television rights controlled by a rival club.

"No, that was part of a process that was really complicated," he said. "You can second-guess anything in history ... but I can't second-guess that. We just have to work our way through this. And disputes between clubs are not uncommon. That's frankly why you have a commissioner. So I wouldn't say that. That was a deal that had to be worked out."

33 comments:

JamesFan said...

If this doesn't come out right, the Lerners should go all in on a whole set of law cases that tie up Angelos for decades and the fans should boycott MASN and the Orioles.

A disfunctional franchise in Baltimore should not be an anchor on a good one in DC.

NatsLady said...

It seems like the "natural rivalry" games are big money makers. Why would they want to cut back on them? I understand some teams don't have natural (local) rivalries, but for two teams within easy diving distance of each other you are going to maximize attendance, especially if one team is substantially better than the other, i.e., both are not selling out to their own fans.

Faraz Shaikh said...

I am sure a better deal could have been worked out. anyways nats should receive their due asap.

NatsLady said...

Also, it seems like the union would be in favor, since all the games are in essence home games, and easier on players (less travel). I'm not saying Philly-Toronto; I mean the Califonia/NY/Chicago teams and Wash/Baltimore.

Tcostant said...

It’s just funny, how Peter Angelos though he pulled a fast one on baseball and ended up getting screwed himself. First he had to pay the Nationals over $50M the first two years when almost no one could watch the games, because of cable company’s disputes. Then he needed to pay the Nationals over $25M/year in years where ratings were so low (think less the 10,000/game) that MLB had to check the numbers. Then this re-set provision comes up just as historical cable deals got done with other teams, while the Nationals got very good and viewership is expanding.
Boswell, has noted that MLB can’t really skimp on this deal, because future TV deals will look at this deal as a precedent. And the stupid clause that states that the O’s need to be paid the same as the Nationals, which may be just taking cash from one hand to the other; could be a cash flow nightmare for MASN.
I think the Nationals with end up with at least $75M/year and it could be closer to $100M. We should all laugh, not condemn this deal, as Angelos likely regrets the day he pushed for it.

Bote Man said...

That's frankly why you have a commissioner.

Oh, really? From the looks of things I thought it was to have a buffoon whose primary goal is to line his own pockets and place the "best interests of baseball" a distant second or third.

Alas, this was inevitable, but the Used Car Salesman from Milwaukee doesn't seem to be helping matters much.

natsfan1a said...

:eyeroll:

"That's frankly why you have a commissioner."

(But thanks for the update, Mark.)

hiramhover said...

"That's frankly why you have a commissioner."

Thanks for the comedy relief.

Resolving these sorts of disputes ought to be the commissioner's job, but Bud is pretty crappy at it--look at this MASN mess, and even worse, the Bay Area feud that's blocking the As relocation.

Shame on you, Bud.

Dave said...

I wonder whether Bud realizes that in screwing the Nats, he will be setting a standard that could screw every other team in MLB?

Angelos is evil incarnate. Selig is his henchman. This is a horrible situation. If it doesn't seem to be resolved justly, I hope the Nats ownership will seek legal remedies.

Doc said...

The real buffoons are the clown team presidents that gave used car salesman Selig his $18 million per year salary.

That's a goofy contract with MASN/O's which ever way you look at it.

The contract must have been written up by a used car salesman!

MicheleS said...

Some day soon Angelos' head will explode and the Nats will be free of MASN and then Comcast can broadcast the games...

Roberto said...

"And the stupid clause that states that the O’s need to be paid the same as the Nationals, which may be just taking cash from one hand to the other; could be a cash flow nightmare for MASN."

This is why I strongly suspect that MASN won't be here in five years, probably less. Paying the Nats and Orioles a combined, say, $150 million a year makes no sense for a "network" that has virtually nothing else to offer the other six months of the year.

This, in addition to Angelos' just plain being a jerk, is why MASN is desperately trying to low-ball the Nationals -- paying them market value means paying the Orioles as if Baltimore was 2.5 times as big and a lot richer than it really is. No amount of Atlantic Sun basketball in January can cover this tab.

SCNatsFan said...

Why would Bud care. If it doesn't pertain the the Yanks or Sox then Bud stays in the backround. Sorry, Brewers too.

Faraz Shaikh said...

WOW Cain, GG's curve, and SS's flame; followed by Dickey's knuckle most likely. That has gotta be awesome.

NatsLady said...

Actually, Bud is taking on the Rays, also, calling their attendance "disappointing" and inexcusable. OK, then.

The Rays' dank basement of a park and its location MIGHT, y'know, MIGHT, have something to do with that.

Candide said...

I thought I read that Comcast was prepared to offer $100 million for the Nats' broadcast rights. What ever happened to that?

peric said...

Meanwhile, there's the battle between the A's who need to move to San Jose to remain viable and the SF Giants.

Tampa Bay's attendance, stadium, pretty much everything and they have been a very competitive club and seem likely to continue to be competitive for a few years hence.

Have to wonder how Houston's move to the AL is going to work out?

And will Bryce's hometown end up with the Ori'holes?

hiramhover said...

NatsLady

Bud said pretty much the same thing re: the Rays at last year's ASG. And at the 2010 ASG too.

These problems aren't easy to solve, but Bud can't even be bothered to pretend to try.

Tcostant said...

Candide it is not up for bid, you might have heard something to the effect that is what Comcast would pay, if it was up for bid. Which it isn't.

Gonat said...

Roberto said...
"And the stupid clause that states that the O’s need to be paid the same as the Nationals, which may be just taking cash from one hand to the other; could be a cash flow nightmare for MASN."

This is why I strongly suspect that MASN won't be here in five years, probably less. Paying the Nats and Orioles a combined, say, $150 million a year makes no sense for a "network" that has virtually nothing else to offer the other six months of the year.

This, in addition to Angelos' just plain being a jerk, is why MASN is desperately trying to low-ball the Nationals -- paying them market value means paying the Orioles as if Baltimore was 2.5 times as big and a lot richer than it really is. No amount of Atlantic Sun basketball in January can cover this tab.

July 10, 2012 3:44 PM
_________________________________

I'm not sure that Angelos will lose in the end. In the near-term, yes, he may have to fund a huge shortfall, but long-term everyone with Comcast, COX, DirecTV, FiOS, Channel 50, MLB Tickets, etc will have to pay more montly.

Don't think for a minute Angelos will be funding losses in this deal plus the clause that states the Orioles get the same deal as the Nationals goes right back in St. Peter's pocket anyway.

It is really just slight of handing and the ole robbing Peter to pay Paul to pay Peter. In the end Peter comes out ahead!

NatsJack in Florida said...

Is it me or does it feel like Friday and the Marlins are still about 5 days away?

At least I'll be down there for Friday, Saturday and Sundays games. Man, I can't wait.

NatsLady said...

Commentary on our draft pick Mooneyham.

/washington-nationals-pitching-prospect-brett-mooneyham-report

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/washington-nationals-pitching-prospect-brett-mooneyham-report-video/

NatsLady said...

Seems like this is a key lesson for Giolito--Mooneyham lost valuable development time in college.

Firm Possession, My Gorsehacken Sofa said...

It is really just the ole robbing Peter to pay Paul to pay Peter. In the end Peter comes out ahead!"

Not sure I followed that, but ...
I like George Bernard Shaw's line: "Politicians who rob Peter to pay Paul can always count on Paul's support."

Candide said...

Tcostant, I understand what you're saying. But what happens if MASN and the Nats reach an impasse? How long does Angelos have the exclusive rights to broadcast Nats games? Forever?

BTW, here's where I got that $100 million Comcast figure. Yes, I see where it says it's not open to bidding, but again what does that mean? Does it mean that Angelos has, in effect, a reserve clause, that the Nats can broadcast their games only on MASN as long as Angelos wants? Can he effectively tell them to take what he offers or drop dead?

Eugene in Oregon said...

Candide,

I believe (based on what I've read here and elsewhere) that MASN (or probably the Orioles themselves -- not sure what the agreement says specifically, and that distinction could be significant) do indeed have some sort of 'permanent' rights to the Nats' TV contract. Not five more years, not ten more years, not 20 more years, but forever. And that, of course, is the heart of the problem.

That's not to say, however, that MASN (or the Orioles or Mr. Angelos) couldn't be bought-out in one form or the other. I assume that a media company like ComCast could, in effect, sub-let the rights to broadcast Nats games for a specified period of time. But I can't imagine they could buy those rights 'forever' -- they would just become subcontractors. I could easily believe, though, that the Nats ownership could reclaim their rights from the Orioles/Angelos for a large -- presumedly a very large -- sum of money. I don't know that for a fact, of course, but I think it's a reasonable assumption. But I wouldn't even guess what that large sum of money might be.

SonnyG10 said...

I wonder what would happen if Angelos was no longer the owner of the Orioles (one way or another)? Would the Nats regain their TV rights or would the new Orioles owners retain the rights?

Eugene in Oregon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eugene in Oregon said...

This is just an educated guess, but I assume the rights reside with the Orioles (who were given those rights as part of the deal that 'allowed' the Expos to move to DC) and are thus exercised by Mr. Angelos as the current owner. If Mr. Angelos were to sell the O's, I assume he would want to sell the Nats' broadcast rights as part of the whole package. And I assume a new owner would want them. But that would also give MLB a golden opportunity to revisit the whole question. And since they're not inherently part of the O's, I could see a new agreement in which the rights return to the Nats (albeit at a steep price to the Nats ownership team). But that's just a supposition. None of us -- I don't think -- has even seen the actual side agreement between MLB and the O's, and I doubt we ever will.

Candide said...

Heh. From "The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant", the delightful novel that was the inspiration for "Damn Yankees." Insurance salesman Joe Boyd is initially reluctant to accept Applegate's Faustian bargain, because the arrangement would be permanent - he'd become Joe Hardy forever:

"Just tell me your reasoning on it. That's what I'd like to know."

"Well,just on general principles, I've always been against anything drawn up in perpetuity," Joe said. That's one thing...

"Now if you should give me something with an escape clause, I might consider it," Joe said.

"Escape clause," Applegate muttered. "Escape clause, my foot!"

"Okay."

"Hey, where are you going?"

"I'm going to bed," Joe said, turning back to put the milk glasses and the tin mold in the sink.

"Wait a minute now - don't rush off," Applegate said. "Don't go getting precipitate on me."

"If we're not going to have a meeting of the minds, I might as well get some sleep."


Of course, Joe gets his escape clause, and he does end up selling his soul to the devil. Too bad the Nats didn't have Joe Boyd's principles. They're locked into a Faustian bargain until the end of time, it seems.

Hmmm... Joe Boyd = the Washington SeNATors. Does that mean Peter Angelos = Applegate/the devil?

rabbit34 said...

I don't care if it's on the Mickey Mouse Network, as long as I see the games.

hokiepokster92 said...

I'll say it again. Selig is the worst league commissioner in all of professional sports. The Dude lacks the stones to make a firm decision.

Gonat said...

SonnyG10 said...
I wonder what would happen if Angelos was no longer the owner of the Orioles (one way or another)? Would the Nats regain their TV rights or would the new Orioles owners retain the rights?

July 10, 2012 7:17 PM
_______________________________

Do you really think there is no assignability clause in case of sale? Angelos is no dummy. Those TV rights are golden.

When there was a rumor earlier this year of Angelos selling the Orioles it was further rumored that Angelos personally wanted to retain the MASN contract.

Agree that any short-term loss Angelos sustains from the new Nats contract will turn have MASN negotiating new cable fees that will once again make it profitable.

The net result is that next year Angelos owns 88% of the MASN network and nobody should be feeling sorry for him.

Post a Comment