SBD/August 24, 2011/Franchises

Dodgers File Request In Bankruptcy Court To Have DC Firm Market Cable TV Rights

Dodgers are currently under contract with Fox through the '13 MLB season
The Dodgers late yesterday filed a request with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware for approval to hire law firm Covington & Burling LLP to help market the club's cable TV rights. Club Owner Frank McCourt has long considered the TV rights the key to alleviating his financial woes, and has argued MLB's rejection of three proposed long-term extensions with Fox Sports are what forced him into the current bankruptcy. Thus, the club's latest request begins to get to the heart of the ongoing case. The filing does not express a preference for a traditional rights deal or the creation of a new regional sports network. But the Dodgers praised the abilities of the firm, which also represented the team on the thwarted Fox extensions. "[The Dodgers] believe that Covington's prior background and experience with LAD will enable [the club] to efficiently and effectively pursue a potential transaction involving the broadcast television rights during their Chapter 11 cases, thereby generating value for the estates and benefiting their creditors and all parties in interest," the filing reads in part. DC-based partner Douglas Gibson is the team's lead attorney on the matter, and his prior work has included representation of MLB, the NFL, the USTA and the USOC's Independent Advisory Committee, among others. Most recently, Gibson led a Covington team advising the UFC on its new TV rights deal with Fox. The Dodgers are currently under contract with Fox through the '13 season, a deal that also grants Fox exclusive negotiating rights for another 15 months. But bankruptcy law allows the Dodgers an option to exit that deal, and the club is expected to seek court approval to do that.

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