By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, does the Diamond Sports/Bally Sports defeat in the case with Major League Baseball mean that it will lose its case against the Phoenix Suns, too? Will they drop their case now against the Suns so we can watch the games for free? — Charlotte, Tempe, Arizona.

Charlotte, Diamond Sports, the owner of 18 Bally Sports regional sports networks which declared bankruptcy in March, last week lost its motion in bankruptcy court to reduce the payments it makes to four MLB teams (Twins, Guardians, Rangers, Diamondbacks) for the rights to carry their games.

The decision was a major blow to Diamond Sports. If it had won the case, Diamond Sports could have used the ruling as precedent to seek reduced payments to other teams whose games it carries. (The Bally Sports channels have 13 MLB teams, 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL teams.)

So does Diamond’s defeat mean that its case against the Phoenix Suns is now over? Before I answer, a little background on that dispute:

The NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury announced in late April that they had 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 has filed suit to block the Suns part of 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.

The beleaguered company 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.

While many Suns fans might wish the MLB case sets the stage for Diamond Sports to lose the Suns lawsuit, the two disputes are completely different. The MLB-Diamond Sports fight was over whether the RSN company should continue to pay the same fees for broadcast rights while the Suns-Diamond Sports battle is over whether their contract required the team to offer Diamond the right of first refusal. And if it did, did the Suns violate that term by signing with Gray?

It’s not clear when the Diamond Sports-Suns case will be settled, but it is clear to this reporter that last week’s legal victory by Major League Baseball will have no bearing on how it will be settled.

Charlotte, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann