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Diamond Sports, Arizona Diamondbacks near deal on telecast contract

The negotiations have resulted in the postponement of a hearing that was scheduled for Thursday.

The negotiations have resulted in the postponement of a hearing that was scheduled for Thursday.

The coverage map of Sinclair’s regional sports channels Bally Sports. (Image courtesy Sinclair Broadcast Group, Graphic by The Desk)

The Arizona Diamondback and Sinclair Broadcast Group’s regional sports company Diamond Sports have postponed a court hearing that was scheduled for Thursday.

The hearing was expected to result in Diamond Sports formally requesting that a judge overseeing its bankruptcy case nullify an agreement between it and the Diamondbacks for continued production and distribution of the team’s regular-season baseball games.

Both sides have been negotiating the matter since Diamond Sports requested the hearing last week, and are moving towards an amicable agreement, according to executives from both companies.

“Diamond Sports Group and the Arizona Diamondbacks have decided to postpone tomorrow’s hearing due to ongoing and positive discussions toward finding a solution,” Diamond Sports CEO David Preschalak and Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall said in the statement sent to The Desk late Wednesday evening.

While the negotiations continue, Diamond Sports will continue to carry Diamondbacks games on its Bally Sports Arizona regional network. The games will also be available to fans over the Internet through Bally Sports Plus, a subscription streaming service launched by Diamond Sports last year.

The Diamondbacks are one of Diamond Sports’ largest creditors, according to court filings reviewed by The Desk in March, with the broadcaster owing at least $31 million to the team at that time.

That number has almost certainly grown over time. Last week, Diamond Sports filed an emergency motion with the court seeking to terminate its telecast agreement with the Diamondbacks, saying the deal was “unnecessary and burdensome” as it seeks to restructure its debt and emerge from bankruptcy.

It wasn’t clear if the deal being negotiated between the two sides will still result in Diamond Sports losing distribution rights to Diamondbacks games. Should that happen, the team and Major League Baseball are prepared to step in and distribute the games online for free.

Diamond Sports operates nearly two dozen Bally Sports-branded regional networks that were acquired from the Walt Disney Company several years ago.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).