In his most recent public comments on the issue, Commissioner Bud Selig expressed mild frustration with the slow timetable of the ongoing negotiations between the Nationals and MASN and withheld details regarding the high-stakes television rights talks.
“We are in the middle of very intense discussions,” Selig said during a luncheon with the Baseball Writers Association of America. “Very intense. That’s all I can tell you at the moment.”
When asked for the timeline he wanted to resolve the situation, Selig said, “a month ago.”
(The best account of where the sides stand remains Boz’s column from earlier this year.)
The Nationals and MASN are in heated negotiations during a “reset” period in their contract that allows the Nationals to argue for a bigger share of the revenue generated by their television rights. The Nationals are hoping to at least triple their share of $29 million from last year, while Orioles owner Peter Angelos, the primary owner of MASN, is arguing for a much, much lower cut.
The case is currently being arbitrated by the commissioner’s office, consisting of a three-member committee with representatives from both teams.
The current negotiations rose from the original contract with the Nationals and MASN, signed when the Lerner family bought the team in 2006. In order to placate Angelos into allowing a team in Washington, which at the time was under Baltimore’s territorial rights, MLB gave Angelos significant control of the Nationals’ television rights.
The Nationals currently own roughly 11 percent of MASN, and their stake will grow at roughly one percent per year until they own one-third of the regional sports network. The skyrocketing value of sports television rights have made the issue contentious, but Selig did not regret the original contract.
“It’s a matter that was very complicated,” Selig said. “You can second-guess anything in history. … We just have to work our way through this. And disputes between clubs are not uncommon. That’s why we have a commissioner.”
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