- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2005

The Baltimore Orioles are seeking a protective order in their legal fight against Comcast SportsNet (CSN), a move that would halt movement on the case until a motion from the club to dismiss CSN’s lawsuit is heard.

CSN filed a lawsuit against the Orioles and Major League Baseball last month in Montgomery County Circuit Court, claiming breach of contract and tortious interference via the Orioles’ intent to move their local pay TV games to the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN). CSN contends the planned shift violates its rights to match any contractual terms from a third party for the Orioles’ TV games, as well as an exclusive negotiating window lasting until November 2005.

The Orioles, however, argue MASN is not a third party but rather a simple reiteration of TCR Inc., a club subsidiary that signed the carriage agreement with CSN’s predecessor, Home Team Sports.

MLB and the Orioles formally will file their response to the CSN lawsuit, led by its motion to dismiss, on June7. The request for the protective order was filed yesterday, a move designed to prevent legal discovery before a hearing on the motion to dismiss. In the meantime, industry sources said the team is preparing a countersuit against CSN unless the Bethesda regional sports network voluntarily withdraws its case.

The lawsuit has embroiled the Washington Nationals because the MLB-owned club is a minority shareholder in the Orioles-controlled MASN. The Nationals’ games appear on the network, and Comcast Corp., CSN’s parent company, is refusing to carry MASN while the litigation is ongoing.

Orioles and Comcast officials were not available for comment last night.

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