Dodgers Revive Negotiations With Fox On TV Rights Deal
As lawyers for Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt and his ex-wife, Jamie, "work to craft a settlement," the team has "revived negotiations with Fox on a television rights deal that could get each of the McCourts to shake hands and move on with their lives," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. The "television deal would be subject to" MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's approval. The settlement negotiations "are delicate, the parties are not talking publicly, and talks could fall apart at any time, so it is impossible to say what all the terms might be." However, "when Fox agreed to lend Frank McCourt about $200 million, with the Dodgers' future television rights used as collateral at a discount rate, Selig rejected the proposal." Under the new deal, McCourt "would abandon -- or at least defer for many years -- his dream of a Dodgers cable channel, in exchange for a fair-market payment from Fox." The payment would be "in the neighborhood of $3 billion over 20 years, which would more than triple the Dodgers' annual television revenue." For Fox, the Dodgers became a "must-keep team the second the Lakers fled to Time Warner." McCourt "would ask Selig for his blessing, arguing that the deal would provide plenty of money to settle the divorce, manage the Dodgers' debt and improve the team and the stadium." If Selig "says no, the expectation in baseball circles is that McCourt would sue." Selig "has made no substantive comment on the McCourts in the year and a half since they filed for divorce, frustrating Dodgers fans but preventing his words from being used against him in a possible lawsuit" (L.A. TIMES, 4/5).
SLOW TO RESPOND: In L.A., Gold, Winton & La Ganga report L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich yesterday called for the Dodgers "to invest in even more security and to curtail alcohol sales" following the assault of a Giants fan on Opening Day. Antonovich: "The Dodgers organization has an obligation to make security a top priority now. Denying that lack of security played a role in this attack is simply sticking their head in the sand." That criticism "appears to be directed at McCourt, who said over the weekend that the attack was 'tragic' but insisted he was satisfied with security levels at the ballpark." Dodgers VP/PR & Broadcasting Josh Rawitch yesterday said that Dodger Stadium's alcohol policies are "already stricter than those of some professional baseball teams." The Dodgers "do not allow alcohol sales after the seventh inning, do not sell beer in the stands and forbid tailgating in the parking lots" (L.A. TIMES, 4/5). In L.A., Steve Dilbeck wrote the Dodgers "have struggled mightily in their response" to Thursday's incident. They have "said little to nothing," and "taken no action." They "probably are misguidedly listening to some lawyer worried about an inevitable lawsuit." But this is a time when McCourt "needs to step forward and not hide in the shadow of words and carefully written statements." Dilbeck: "Needs to be at the forefront. Needs to demonstrate he's concerned, not just talk about it. ... McCourt stands to lose a lot more income down the road by losing nervous fans if he doesn't seriously recognize and address this incident and the overall problem" (LATIMES.com, 4/4).