By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
Major League Baseball has filed an emergency motion in the Diamond Sports bankruptcy court asking that the owner of 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks be ordered to make its regular payment to the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Guardians by April 13.
That’s according to an article from The Athletic which also reports that MLB is asking the court to either force Diamond to pay or relinquish its rights to the Twins and Guardians so the teams could take over the broadcasts.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has vowed to keep all games on TV regardless of how the Diamond bankruptcy plays out.
Diamond has missed its quarterly payments to the Twins and Guardians, Sports Business Journal first reported this week. It’s unclear if the company plans to make those payments (without penalty) during a 15-day grace period. (Diamond has also missed a payment to the Arizona Diamondbacks but that is not expected to affect its rights because it’s part of the bankruptcy petition which Diamond filed last month.)
Bally Sports has continued to broadcast the Twins and Guardians games during the impasse.
The Athletic writes that the MLB emergency petition says:
“Just one day prior to the April 1 due date for the first 2023 installment of the fees due to the Clubs, the Debtor RSNs informed the Guardians and the Twins that the Debtor RSNs (Diamond) would not be making the required payments. “The Debtor RSNs 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 postpetition revenue, yet boldly refuse to pay the Clubs.”
Sports Business Journal reports that Diamond has made payments on time to eight other teams in the past week: Angels, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Marlins, Rays, Royals and Tigers. In addition, the San Diego Padres has said publicly that it has received its payment from Diamond which has the TV rights to 14 teams. The Padres payment was made during the grace period, according to ESPN.
SBJ writes that the next payments due are to the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds. The Reds’ payment is unlikely to be paid on time, SBJ says, while the Rangers situation is unclear.
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— Phillip Swann