By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
Diamond Sports, the owner of the 18 Bally Sports regional sports networks, is rejecting its agreement to broadcast the Arizona Diamondbacks games on Bally Sports Arizona.
The RSN company, which declared bankruptcy in March, first requested that the Diamondbacks pact be rejected in a motion filed last month. After Diamond Sports filed that request, it filed a new motion to postpone a hearing on the request to today, July 17. Diamond Sports said it was in ‘positive’ discussions with the team to continue broadcasting Arizona’s games.
Today’s hearing was rescheduled until tomorrow, suggesting the possibility of a last-minute deal. But it would appear that any negotiations to continue failed with Diamond Sports today filing a proposed order that would approve its initial request to end the Diamondbacks deal.
“It is hereby ordered that the Diamondbacks Agreement is rejected pursuant to section 365 of the Bankruptcy Code, and the Debtors are authorized to cease performing under the Diamondbacks Agreement, including ceasing to broadcast games pursuant thereto, with both effectiveness of rejection and cessation of performance being effective as of July 17, 2023 at 12:01 a.m. MS,” the proposed order says.
The judge must still sign the proposed order after tomorrow’s hearing. But if he does, the termination of the agreement will be backdated to 2:01 a.m. ET today.
Update: Judge Lopez approved the rejection motion on Tuesday. Now we await a response from Major League Baseball.
It appears likely the order will be approved. Another filing today from Diamond says the company and the Diamondbacks “have substantially agreed” on the proposed order.
“No one (including the Diamondbacks, which is the only counterparty to the Diamondbacks Agreement), objects to the relief requested. Indeed, the Debtors and the Diamondbacks have substantially agreed on the form of a proposed order granting the Motion, which is being filed contemporaneously herewith. The rejection of the Diamondbacks Agreement is the sole issue presently before the Court,” Diamond says in the filing in the bankruptcy court.
Major League Baseball is likely to take over the Diamondbacks broadcasts, as it did on May 31 after Diamond Sports rejected its agreement with the San Diego Padres. If Diamond continues to broadcast any games after a rejection order is approved, the company must pay the Diamondbacks for those games.
“Notwithstanding the above rejection and authorization to cease to perform, should the Debtors continue to broadcast any Diamondbacks games after the rejection date, the Debtors shall pay the Diamondbacks a per-game amount, the calculation of which shall be derived from the scheduled fee amounts as set forth in the Diamondbacks Agreement,” the proposed order states.
The order adds: “The Debtors shall remove any personal property remaining at the Diamondbacks facilities on or before July 31, 2023. Any such personal property remaining at the Diamondbacks facilities on or after July 31, 2023, shall be deemed abandoned by the Debtors, and the Diamondbacks may dispose of such property free and clear of any parties’ interest, if any.”
Diamond Sports last week officially lost its agreement with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns whose games were also on Bally Sports Arizona. It’s unclear if the company will continue operating the channel which also broadcasts the games of the Arizona Coyotes.
The TV Answer Man will update this story if we get more information. The Diamondbacks’ next game is tomorrow (July 18) at 7:20 p.m. ET against the Atlanta Braves.
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— Phillip Swann