MLB panel: Nationals owed nearly $100 million

A Major League Baseball arbitration committee has ruled the Washington Nationals are due nearly $100 million (US) in additional rights fees from the Baltimore Orioles in the latest salvo in their long-running media rights dispute.

MLB’s Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee, which helps set local media rights for clubs with equity interests in their own revenue sports networks, ruled the Orioles as supermajority shareholder in the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) owe that amount to the Nationals, the junior partner in the RSN, for its 2012-2016 media rights. The amount, above and beyond what the Orioles have already paid the Nationals, was revealed in an unsealed document with the New York State Supreme Court. 

The Orioles and Nationals have been engaged in a lengthy court battle regarding the local media rights, stemming from the Montreal Expos’ 2005 relocation to the U.S. capital city to become the Nationals. A prior RSDC award in favor of the Nationals, prescribing a similar amount of additional rights fees, was thrown out by a state appeals court. 

The Orioles and MASN are certain to contest the award. And even if that appeal is unsuccessful, the $100 million will be lessened by restated profit distributions from the RSN that both clubs participated in over the years.

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