By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, is there anything new with the Phoenix Suns and their TV deal with Gray Television and the lawsuit with the Bally Sports owner? Very excited to see the Suns games on local TV for free!! — Gary, Scottsdale, Arizona.
Gary, the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury announced in late April that they have signed an agreement with Gray Television to broadcast their entire regular seasons on local Arizona TV channels starting with the 2023-23 season. Team officials have suggested the games would be available for free. See this article for more details.
However, Diamond Sports, which in March declared bankruptcy and is seeking to reorganize its regional sports network business, which includes the 19 Bally Sports RSNs, has filed an emergency stay motion to block the Gray deal. The company alleges that its contract with the Suns to carry its games on Bally Sports Arizona gave it the right of first refusal, meaning it could match any offer another company made for the Suns’ rights after its contract with the team expired.
Diamond says the Suns did not allow it to match the Gray offer, which the company says violates bankruptcy law and damages its effort to reorganize.
The NBA team, however, filed a motion yesterday in the bankruptcy court that says it did try to negotiate a new deal with Diamond after the old agreement expired, according to an article by Law360. The Suns say that since the old contract expired, it has the right to find a new broadcasting partner.
“Specifically, by its terms, the agreement expires at the end of the 2022-23 NBA season, and, at this point, Diamond has no rights to any future Phoenix Suns games,” the motion states, according to Law360.
The Suns add that Diamond’s deadline to extend its rights expired and therefore the Suns were free to sign the new agreement with Gray.
The team charges that Diamond is trying to use the bankruptcy filing to exact wider rights than were actually in its contract with the Suns.
It’s unclear when the Texas bankruptcy court will rule on the two motions. But when it does, the verdict will become must-reading for team owners and league commissioners who are contemplating what life may be like without regional sports networks.
Gary, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann