Judge Tosses Arbitration Ruling Regarding MASN Sports Channel and the Washington National Baseball Team
Friday, November, 13, 2015
A New York state judge recently threw out an arbitration ruling that required the Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) to pay the Washington National nearly $300 million for the team’s 2012-2016 television rights. MASN is controlled by the Baltimore Orioles baseball team.
MASN and the Orioles brought filed the lawsuit in the New Your State Supreme Court in 2014, claiming the arbitrator had a conflict of interest. He worked for the law firm Proskauer Rose, which represented the Naitonals and occasionally worked for MLB.
For months the Orioles and MASN’s complaints “fell entirely on deaf ears.” In response, the judge concluded there was a lack of concern for fairness in the arbitration proceedings.
MASN was created following the move of the Montreal Expos to Washington, DC. Prior to the move, the Orioles had exclusive broadcast rights to the area. The team was given a supermajority partnership interest in MASN, and the Nationals were ordered to pay $75 million to the network to own the remaining 10%. Problems continued to mount from 2012 on, including a $25 million loan given to the Nationals from MLB in 2013.
Attorneys involved in the dispute point out that the issue is far from resolved. Since the progress made to date was based on a conflict of interest, both teams and MLB are essentially back at square one. Spokesman for MASN are hoping the next step to resolution will be designed more fairly than the previous arbitration and not be overseen by someone who should have never been a part of the process in the first place