A New York court has sealed a key decision of a Major League Baseball arbitration panel in the dispute between the Orioles and the Washington Nationals over television rights fees and profits from the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.
Documents filed recently with the New York Supreme Court indicate that the long-awaited decision was issued — and was ordered withheld from the public.
The arbitration decision of three MLB team executives could be worth more than $100 million because it affects not only rights fees moving forward, but also those from past years.
The dispute dates to 2012, when the Orioles and Nationals could not agree on the appropriate rights fees, which MASN pays equally to both clubs for televising their games. An initial MLB panel’s ruling was tossed out in 2015 by a judge who said MASN did not receive a fair hearing.
The Nationals claim they are not receiving fair-market value from the network, which is 80% owned by the Orioles. The Orioles argue the Nationals and MLB want to deviate from a standard formula used to determine rights fees.
The latest decision was sealed after Stephen R. Neuwirth, an attorney for the Nationals, said in a court filing that certain documents — including a motion to confirm the arbitration award — fell under a non-disclosure agreement between the parties.
The non-disclosure agreement is to prevent “public disclosure of confidential information provided” during the arbitration panel’s proceedings, Neuwirth’s filing said.
“Public disclosure of such sensitive and confidential business and financial information would also have a detrimental impact on the parties. In addition, the public has no legitimate interest in such information,” Neuwirth wrote.
It will now be up to the court to decide which documents are to remain sealed.
Neuwirth did not immediately return emails about the case, and other attorneys also declined to comment.