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Jim Williams: Dodgers look set to cash in

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,Jim Williams

Multiple media reports have the Los Angeles Dodgers and Time Warner Cable putting the finishing touches on a $7 billion to $8 billion local television rights deal over 20 to 25 years. Earlier this year, the Dodgers were sold for a record price of $2.15 billion to Guggenheim Partners, an ownership group headed by Magic Johnson and former Nationals president Stan Kasten.

Presently representatives of Major League Baseball are going over the contract. The deal is expected to pass, and when it does it will be by far the largest local TV rights contract in sports history.

The deal makes the recent 20-year, $3 billion deals inked by the Angels and the Rangers look like pocket change. Not to mention the poor Yankees and the Red Sox, who have fallen behind in the TV rights race.

Guggenheim would own the channel, which would allow it to make as much money as possible while still abiding by baseball's revenue-sharing agreement. The Dodgers' revenue-sharing bill could range from $1 billion to $2.7 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times.

So while the Dodgers become the latest major league baseball team to cash in on the local TV rights bonanza, here in Washington there is still no movement on a rights adjustment for the Nationals from Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

The Nationals' television rights were put in control of Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos as a condition for allowing the team to move to Washington. In turn, Washington would receive a 33 percent stake in MASN over time. As of now the Nationals own about 6 percent of the network.

Part of the agreement between the Nationals and MASN is that every five years the team would receive a rights fee adjustment. For nearly a year, the two sides have battled over the size of that adjustment.

The Nationals have pegged the value of their TV rights in the current climate at around $100 million a year, while MASN feels a bump from the 2011 fee of $29 million to around $35 million is fair.

Major League Baseball has attempted to resolve the issue, but there is no resolution in sight. The enormity of the new Dodgers deal could push the powers at MLB to resolve the Nats' matter a bit sooner.

Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @wordmandc.

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