MLB awarded $6m in Dominican Republic TV rights payment feud

Major League Baseball has been awarded more than $6m (€5.1m) in a legal dispute with Telemicro, the commercial broadcaster in the Dominican Republic, as a New York judge this week dismissed a challenge to the arbitration process.

Telemicro was awarded the MLB broadcast rights in the Dominican Republic from 2016 to 2018 but the league claimed that the broadcaster failed to make installment payments on several occasions and subsequently terminated the deal in 2017.

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York has now upheld the award of damages to the MLB, rejecting Telemicro’s challenge that the arbitrator who issued the initial award had not been appointed correctly.

The award comprises $2.4m in damages, over $1.75m in lawyer fees, plus interest and costs, according to the Law360.com website.

Telemicro had argued that it was denied due process when the American Arbitration Association appointed Stephen Strick as arbitrator after failing to offer any feedback to the AAA’s proposed list of arbitrators.

The order issued by the New York court read: “Telemicro’s challenge misses the mark, comes far too late, and is entirely insufficient to warrant this court rejecting an otherwise valid arbitration decision.”

The Dominican Republic has long been a highly fertile source of major league player talent. Each year since MLB began tracking in 1995 the nationalities of its Opening Day rosters, the Dominican Republic has led all non-United States countries in supplying player talent, reaching during the 2020 season a league-record 109 players. The Dominican Republic is the only international country or territory to ever exceed 100 players on MLB Opening Day rosters, having also done so last year.

Earlier this year, the MLB additionally held a Spring Training exhibition game in the Dominican Republic, as the Minnesota Twins faced the Detroit Tigers in the league’s first game in the country in two decades.