MASN, Nationals Still Working To Resolve Rights Dispute
By Dave Hughes DCRTV.com
The Washington Post's James Wagner is reporting that Major League Baseball has asked a private investment bank to seek potential new owners for Washington Nationals' TV rights, which are now held by the Baltimore-based Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.
Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos currently controls MASN, and a new owner could create a new regional sports network, rather than continuing to air Nationals games on MASN. Fox Sports and Comcast-NBC are in the running to take over the rights, according to the Post.
The Nationals and MASN have been debating the size of the team's TV rights fee since the 2011 season concluded. MASN gave Washington $29 million last season, but the Nats have reportedly contended they should receive between $100 million and $120 million per year.
A person familiar with MASN and the Orioles told the Post that MASN was not for sale, and no one had approached network executives about a potential sale.
In 2013, the Nationals' share of MASN will rise to 14 percent. According to an unnamed source in the Post article, MASN proposed that the Nationals' rights fee for next season would be close to $37 million, with an equity stake payment of $8 million.
John Ourand at the Baltimore Business Journal reported that even though the University of Maryland is joining the Big Ten Conference, there is no guarantee its games will be on the Big Ten Network in 2013.
That's because the Big Ten Conference is looking into a strategy that could keep all Maryland and Rutgers -- another Big Ten newcomer -- games off the BTN unless local distributors place the channel on an expanded basic tier, according to the Journal.
Comcast, the largest Baltimore-area cable TV provider, places the Big Ten channels in a pay-extra sports-and-entertainment tier, which is not available to subscribers who pay for the full, expanded basic package of channels, such as its Digital Preferred tier.
"If the Big Ten Conference opted to sell Maryland and Rutgers games to the Big Ten Network from the beginning, Comcast [and other area cable systems] would have no incentive to move the network off of their sports tiers," Ourand wrote. "Instead, if the Big Ten Network is unable to reach a deal with the distributors, local Maryland and Rutgers fans only would have access to ESPN-produced games."
MASN has reportedly filed a lawsuit against Korn/Ferry International, a Los Angeles executive search firm the regional sports network hired to assist in its search for a new high-level sales executive.
The Baltimore Business Journal reported that MASN filed the suit Dec. 7 in Baltimore City Circuit Court. According to the suit, MASN signed a contract on March 1, 2011, to pay Korn/Ferry a $100,000 retainer, in addition to administrative fees, to help it hire a director of advertising sales for local markets.
The network is alleging that Korn/Ferry failed to fulfill that task, and is asking for the court to order the company to pay $129,736 in damages.
Mike Wise and Chris Johnson are gone from CBS' sports talker in Washington, D.C., WJFK, 106.7 The Fan.
Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier's show will be stretched to four hours, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to sources.
Wise, a Washington Post sports columnist and feature writer, scaled back his work at the station in April, having earlier been partnered with Kushner for the entire midday block. Wise and Johnson were most recently airing in the 12-2 p.m. slot.
Posted Dec. 18, 2012