SBD/November 29, 2011/Franchises

Dodgers Argue Fox' Opposition To TV Rights Sale Is Inhibiting Auction Of Team

Dodgers argue Fox is trying to minimize value of club's most significant asset
The Dodgers yesterday in a bankruptcy court filing said that Owner Frank McCourt's agreement with MLB to sell the club by April 30 is being increasingly threatened by FSN’s ongoing opposition to a proposed accelerated sale of the club's cable TV rights. "As Fox knows, any delay in the schedule proposed under the marketing procedures would impair (the Dodgers') ability to obtain the full relief that it seeks," the team said in its filing. The club claims Fox' opposition, now a singular position given the creditors have also backed the proposed rights sale and MLB is a neutral party, is designed "to minimize the value of (the Dodgers') most significant asset by shutting out competing suitors for the post-2012 telecast rights, and pay as little as possible to capture them for itself." Fox, conversely, has asked the court to uphold its current contract with the Dodgers, and has threatened a "colossal" claim of damages if the deal is scuttled and Prime Ticket is eventually shuttered. The bankruptcy court hearing on the rights issue, originally slated for tomorrow in Wilmington, Del., was continued earlier today to Dec. 7. The one-week delay will allow more time to see if mediation efforts that began yesterday lead toward a settlement (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). The Dodgers said that damages from selling the media rights "would be minimal, if any." The team argued that even if the current contract "is enforced, nothing in it guarantees that Fox can retain the Dodgers' rights" (LATIMES.com, 11/28).
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