MSGN, Yankees Reach Settlement

Author:
Updated:
Original:

Madison Square Garden Network has settled the litigation relating to
telecast rights of the New York Yankees for the 2002 season, the regional sports
network announced Tuesday.

While it remains unclear at this point as to just where the baseball team's
games will air next season, the settlement appears to open the door for the
Yankees to form their own regional sports network.

Under terms of the agreement, MSGN, which is owned by Cablevision Systems
Corp., has been granted the right -- at no charge -- to televise 85
regular-season games in 2002, while the club holds the rights to the remaining
contests.

However, over the next 60 days, the Yankees have two choices: The team must
either pay MSGN $30 million to buy back the rights to those games, or sell 65
additional regular-season games to MSGN for $37.5 million.

If the club chooses the former, it would have local telecast control and it
could establish its own regional sports network. Under the latter scenario, MSGN
would have the rights to 150 contests and maintain its strong year-round live
professional-sports programming lineup.

The settlement, which does not impact the current season, stems from attempts
by YankeeNets, the entity that owns the baseball team, and International
Management Group to launch a dedicated channel for the 'Bronx Bombers' last
year, and it upholds MSGN's 'right of last refusal' for Yankees rights

'This agreement is in the best interests of the Yankees and MSG Network and
resolves a complicated matter to the satisfaction of both parties,' Madison
Square Garden president and CEO Dave Checketts said in a prepared statement.

'MSG Network has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with the New York
Yankees, and this settlement allows us to consider the future of our
relationship unencumbered by litigation,' he added.

Officials for YankeeNets could not be immediately reached.

Should the Yankees elect to forge their own network, the club or its
representatives would have to ink carriage deals with Cablevision to retain its
strong distribution presence in the New York DMA.

Last November, MSGN and the Yankees agreed to a one-year, $52 million pact,
following a similar offer from IMG. Under the 12-year, $493.5 million deal that
expired at the end of the 2000 campaign, MSGN held the right to match the
offer.

Last July, IMG initially made a 10-year, $900 million offer for a regional
sports network that would have later included coverage of the National
Basketball Association's New Jersey Nets and the National Hockey League's New
Jersey Devils, both of which are also owned by YankeeNets. However, a New York
State judge declared that such a plan could not be matched by MSGN.

Two months later, the Yankees offered MSGN a 10-year,
$1.3 billion deal in an upfront payment -- a total that would have grown to $2.4
billion if made in annual installments. The regional viewed that offer as
excessive, and the Yankees pulled it back.

Related