Cable viewers unlikely to see Twins on Bally Sports North anytime soon

It doesn't sound like Twins fans will be able to watch the team on cable TV in Minneapolis anytime soon.

Negotiations between Comcast cable systems and the Bally Sports Networks "are currently at an impasse," an attorney for Bally's parent company told a bankruptcy judge in Houston on Tuesday.

"Based on Comcast's intransigence to negotiate off their current position," said attorney Joe Graham, representing Diamond Sports Group, "the company has little choice but to explore alternatives to Comcast."

Comcast dropped Diamond's sports networks including Bally Sports North, which televises Twins games, on May 1, citing its inability to settle on a new contract with the bankrupt network and DSG. At a brief-but-contentious hearing before Judge Christopher Lopez, Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL all expressed their doubts about doing business with the networks much longer.

"Without a Comcast deal, [Diamond] may very well not be able to survive," said Vincent Indelicato, the NBA's attorney. "We simply cannot wait much longer" to find out.

But Lopez confirmed that he has agreed to move back a final decision on Diamond's future to July 30, more than a month past the June 18 deadline that the NBA and NHL had insisted upon at a hearing in May.

The fall leagues are dismayed by that delay, their attorneys said, citing their need to finalize broadcast plans for next season sometime soon.

They need time "well ahead of next season to properly produce, distribute and market games," Indelicato said. "We're talking about approximately 70 games per team across 15 different teams. You just simply can't launch [a new broadcasting partnership] for approximately 1,000 games in that many geographies overnight."

NHL attorney Shana Elberg said the league might not wait.

"We have told the debtors unequivocally that we need to get clarity on certain outstanding matters this week," she said.

Baseball's attorney, James Bromley, told Lopez that MLB currently plans to formally object to allowing Diamond to stay in business beyond this season.