MILWAUKEE — Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB will step in if Diamond Sports stops paying teams rights fees for the Brewers telecasts due to its bankruptcy case, according to our partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal.
Diamond Sports Group, the company that broadcasts Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers games, filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection in March. The Sinclair Broadcast Group subsidiary operates “Bally Sports” and provides local television broadcasts for almost half of NBA, NHL, and MLB games.
According to BizJournal, Manfred said during a press conference at American Family Field last week, “I’m concerned about the RSN situation. We have 14 teams including the Brewers involved in the Diamond bankruptcy.”
Manfred said he hopes Diamond decides to live up to its “contractual obligation” and broadcast the games, “But if they don’t, we will step in and the games will be available both linear (cable) and digital.”
The BizJournal reports that the Brewers have retained attorneys in the bankruptcy case. The case is proceeding in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Texas.
As TMJ4 News previously reported, in its Chapter 11 petition, Diamond Sports listed assets and liabilities between $1 billion and $10 billion each. Diamond has $425 million in cash, but owes $9 billion to its lenders. CNBC reports the company is stuck between expensive broadcast rights agreements and its customers moving away from cable and towards online streaming options.
Diamond is entering Chapter 11 with an agreement that $8 billion of its debt will be eliminated by transferring ownership of the company from Sinclair to Diamond’s lenders. CNBC reports that a group of senior lenders will be repaid in cash. Sinclair bought the regional sports networks in 2019 from the Walt Disney Company.
The Brewers’ contract with Bally is worth nearly $34 million per year over four years. The Bucks agreed to extend their contract in 2018 to seven years with Fox Sports Wisconsin, which is now Bally Sports Wisconsin.
In late January, sports-broadcaster-diamond-faces-8-6-billion-debt-reckoning?utm_source=google&utm_medium=bd&cmpId=google&leadSource=uverify%20wall”>Bloomberg first reported the news that the company was planning to file for bankruptcy because it couldn’t pay its dues.
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