Judge confirms TV rights payment to Nats in Orioles dispute

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- A judge has confirmed an arbitration decision from baseball executives ordering the Washington Nationals to be paid $296.8 million by the cable network they jointly own with the Baltimore Orioles for their television rights from 2012-16.

The Orioles and Nationals jointly own the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and have been fighting in court for years about how much money Washington is owed under their unusual TV rights arrangement.

The Orioles had asked New York Supreme Court Justice Joel M. Cohen to reject the arbitration decision, arguing that the executives on the arbitration panel were compromised by conflicts of interest. But Cohen said there was no reason to throw out the arbitrators' award, and he also ruled Thursday that the Nationals were entitled to interest on the money they have yet to be paid. The question of how much interest the Nationals are owed will be decided by a court official known as a special referee clerk.

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MASN was established in March 2005 after the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington and became the Nationals, moving into what had been Baltimore's exclusive broadcast territory since 1972. The Orioles have a controlling interest in the network.

MASN paid the Nationals for 2012-16 what the Orioles proposed: $197.5 million. Washington argued it should be paid $475 million. A previous arbitration panel ruled that the Nationals were owed $298.1 million, but that decision was thrown out by a New York court after an appeal by the Orioles. The second panel ordered a slightly lower payment of $296.8 million.

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