The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network has agreed to pay the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles around $100 million each following a protracted dispute over the value of the Nationals’ television rights from 2012 to 2016, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither team had made an announcement. The Washington Post first reported the settlement, which removes one hurdle in the Lerner family’s efforts to potentially sell the Nationals franchise.
When MLB purchased the Montreal Expos and moved them to Washington in 2005, the Orioles said another team nearby would harm them financially. MLB and the two teams negotiated an agreement under which MASN would televise both teams’ games, with the teams receiving equal rights fees.
The Orioles, who control MASN and have a significantly larger ownership stake in the two-team regional sports network, stand to benefit from lower rights fees. MASN paid the Nationals for 2012-16 what the Orioles proposed: $197.5 million. In 2019, an arbitration committee of baseball executives appointed by the commissioner said the value for the Nationals should be set at $297 million. MASN has now agreed to pay the difference of about $100 million.
Baltimore has argued this process was tainted, but the New York Court of Appeals sided with the Nationals in a 6-0 decision in April.
The Lerner family bought the Nationals in 2006 and began exploring a possible sale in April 2022. This ongoing dispute has complicated attempts to sell the team.
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