Major League Baseball has filed an emergency motion in the Diamond Sports bankruptcy case asking the court to force the regional sports broadcaster company to make overdue rights payments to the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Guardians. Here’s what you need to know:
- Diamond Networks’ Bally Sports, which filed for Chapter 11 on March 15, broadcasts 14 MLB teams, three of which have not been paid including the Arizona Diamondbacks.
- MLB is seeking an order by April 13 that would force Diamond to either pay the Twins and Guardians, or terminate contracts so the teams can take over the broadcasts.
- Bally Sports North and Bally Sports Great Lakes continued to televise the Twins and Guardians, respectively, despite not being paid.
What did the movement say?
“Just one day before the April 1 due date for the first 2023 payment of fees due to the clubs, RSN debtors notified the trustees and twins that RSN debtors would not make the required payments,” MLB attorneys wrote in their move (debtor RSNs refers to Bally Sports). “RSN debtors made this decision even though they continue to use the clubs valuable intellectual property every day. By continuing to broadcast Guardians and Twins games, they generate post-competition revenue, but they boldly refuse to pay the clubs.”
Diamond also did not pay the Diamondbacks money, but this happened just before the bankruptcy began, so the team was instead listed as a creditor in the Chapter 11 petition.
Several teams indicated in the proposal that they reserved their rights to join the movement if Diamond also failed to pay them in the future. These teams are the Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Rays, and Texas Rangers.
In the motion, MLB’s attorney wrote that the clubs are prepared to take over the broadcasts if necessary.
“As the 2023 season gets under way, clubs are navigating a complex and fragile situation without ensuring they can consistently deliver games to the millions of fans who follow professional baseball through daily telecasts,” MLB lawyers wrote.
MLB’s proposal has been revised and has not publicly disclosed how much money the teams are owed. But a source close to Diamond said the Guardians annual fee is $55 million and the Twins $42 million.
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