By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
DIRECTV has filed a statement in the bankruptcy court for Diamond Sports that says the company that owns the Bally Sports regional sports networks shouldn’t assume that it will be able to renew its carriage deal with the nation’s largest satellite TV service. Diamond Sports, which declared bankruptcy in March, has asked the court to extend its deadline for filing a reorganization plan until the end of the year. That motion says Diamond needs more time to extend its current carriage agreements with DIRECTV and Comcast before they expire this fall. But DIRECTV’s statement, filed yesterday, suggests the Bally Sports negotiations could fail for various reasons.
“DIRECTV…files this statement to make clear that any go-forward business plan the Debtors (Diamond Sports) propose should not assume that DIRECTV will renew its various distribution agreements with the Debtors on terms that “expand carriage…” and based on the same broadcast model the Debtors concede is outdated and no longer workable,” the statement reads. “DIRECTV has concerns regarding the viability of any go-forward business plan the Debtors may propose, particularly one that assumes a continuation of the status quo under the Distribution Agreements with DIRECTV.”
The satcaster says negotiations with Diamond Sports have “barely begun” and that the companies haven’t even resolved the issue of possible cost reductions based on the RSN company’s loss of two team agreements (the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres) when it decided to end their broadcast deals because they were deemed unprofitable. “Despite the fact that the Debtors’ Distribution Agreements with DIRECTV terminate by their terms later this year (unless DIRECTV opts to extend), the Debtors’ renewal discussions with DIRECTV have barely begun. Even agreements on preliminary matters related to such renewal discussions, such as alignment on cost-based reductions for loss of specific teams’ rights, have thus far not been reachable.”
DIRECTV’s statement does not say when its current agreement with Diamond Sports expires. The agreement also includes DIRECTV Stream and U-verse. Diamond Sports still has the broadcast rights to 12 MLB teams. 15 NBA teams and 12 NHL teams.
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— Phillip Swann