By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, what’s the latest with Diamond Sports? Are they dropping more baseball teams from their broadcasts? — Fred, St. Louis.
Fred, this could be a big week for Diamond Sports and four Major League Baseball teams whose games it broadcasts on its Bally Sports regional sports networks.
For those not familiar with the issue, Diamond Sports, which declared bankruptcy in March, notified the bankruptcy court last week that it is considering ending its TV rights deals with more teams. The company, which owns 18 Bally Sports regional sports networks, dropped the rights to the San Diego Padres games on May 30 when it decided to stop paying the team. Major League Baseball took over the broadcasts, starting with the team’s May 31 game against the Miami Marlins.
Judge Chris Lopez, who presides in the Diamond Sports bankruptcy case, on June 1 ruled against the company’s motion to reduce the payments it makes to four MLB teams (Twins, Guardians, Rangers, Diamondbacks) for the rights to carry their games.
Before the June 1 ruling, the company paid 75 percent of its most recent quarterly fee as ordered by the judge until a final verdict on the reduced payments motion.
In a new motion filed last week, Diamond Sports asked the judge for an emergency clarification on his June 1 ruling. The company acknowledges that it’s considering dropping more teams but wanted to know that if it does, will it be reimbursed for payments already made. But Lopez on Friday rejected the motion, adding that he will reconsider the request if Diamond Sports actually decides to reject a team agreement.
So, to mix sporting metaphors, the ball is back in Diamond Sports’ court. The company now must decide whether to pay the four teams in full, or drop their broadcasts as it did for the Padres. The exact deadline for that decision is unclear but it appears to be this week or next based on the judge’s June 2 ruling which said it had five business days to decide. What’s unclear is whether the clarification motion reset the clock.
If Diamond Sports does reject a team agreement, Major League Baseball would step in to do the broadcasts.
The TV Answer Man will monitor this situation and report back here if anything significant changes. Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann