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Orioles, Nats finish arguments in TV dispute rehearing

NEW YORK (AP) — The Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles finished their arguments in a two-day rehearing before a committee of baseball executives in their long-running dispute over television rights fees.

They completed their presentations Friday before the Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee, which now includes Milwaukee Brewers chairman Mark Attanasio, Seattle Mariners President Kevin Mather and Toronto Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro. Written briefs are due Dec. 14, and no reply briefs are scheduled.

In 2012, an RSDC that then included Pittsburgh Pirates President Frank Coonelly, Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg and New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon ruled the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network owed the Nationals $298 million for the team’s 2012-16 television rights.

The Orioles sued, and the RSDC decision was thrown out by a New York State Supreme Court justice in 2015. The New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division voted 3-2 in 2017 to send the decision back to the RSDC.

MASN was established in March 2005 after the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington and became the Nationals, moving into what had been Baltimore’s exclusive broadcast territory since 1972. The Orioles were given a supermajority partnership interest in MASN, starting at 90 percent, and Washington made a $75 million payment to the network for an initial 10 percent stake.

The agreement called for the Nationals’ equity to increase 1 percent annually, starting after the 2009 season, with a cap of 33 percent. The network’s rights payments to each team were set at $20 million apiece in 2005 and 2006, rising to $25 million in 2007, with $1 million annual increases through 2011.

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