Orioles, Nationals take MASN television dispute to mediation

NEW YORK -- The long-running television dispute between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals is heading to mediation.

New York Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Marks said in an order filed Monday that the sides agreed to hold a mediation on April 12-13. A Feb. 24 letter from Nationals lawyer Stephen Neuwirth to Marks, which was posted to the case file Monday, said the sides agreed to have Boston-based Eric Green mediate.

In November, Marks threw out a decision by Major League Baseball's Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee that said the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, which is controlled by the Orioles, owed the Nationals about $298 million for the team's 2012-16 television rights. The Orioles and MASN claim the rights fee should be far less.

MASN and the Orioles sued in New York State Supreme Court last year, claiming the arbitration was improper because the law firm Proskauer Rose, which represented the Nationals, at times worked for MLB and the teams of all three RSDC members.

Neuwirth said in his letter the Nationals offered to switch to Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan as their counsel but MASN and the Orioles refused to have the matter re-heard by the RSDC, which includes three ownership level officials from other teams. Neuwirth also said in the letter the Nationals agreed to mediation "under pressure," claiming Marks' clerk said she expected Marks to order mediation if the sides did not agree to it.

Marks set a briefing schedule that runs through June 17 on the Nationals' motion to compel another arbitration.