Fox Sports Net Presses Judge To Remove Dodgers From Bankruptcy
FSN late Friday pressed the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware to have the Dodgers removed from bankruptcy, again escalating the ongoing battle between the team and RSN. As threatened earlier last week, FSN argued in its motion that Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt is blatantly abusing the U.S. bankruptcy code for his own personal gain, particularly with regard to developing plans to sell the club's future cable TV rights well in advance of current contract terms with FSN. "It is time for Mr. McCourt to stand down," FSN said in its filing. "The team can and will be sold for a handsome price with Prime Ticket's telecast agreement intact. As for future telecast rights, there are two legitimate options: 1) McCourt can honor the future telecast agreement reached with Prime Ticket just before the bankruptcy, whose terms Prime Ticket believes MLB has now approved, or 2) Mr. McCourt can step aside and allow the new owner of the Dodgers to negotiate its own future telecast rights deal, unfettered by his interference. Neither option requires these bankruptcy cases to continue." McCourt is seeking to accelerate the marketing of the cable TV rights, currently held by FSN through '13 with right-of-refusal and exclusive negotiation options beyond that. But Fox argued in its 46-page filing such efforts are improper, and the RSN further argued Blackstone Advisory, the Dodgers' choice to market the rights, already "is holding itself out as having authority to market telecast rights" in advance of any court proceeding on the club's motion to do so. Fox additionally claimed the club's signing Friday of star CF Matt Kemp to an eight-year, $160M extension, the largest deal in NL history, further nullifies any need for the Dodgers to still be in bankruptcy. The Dodgers tersely responded, "Simply put, an utter act of desperation by Fox" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
DELAY OF GAME? The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman noted litigation "could delay what the Dodgers and Major League Baseball were hoping will be an expedited process of selling the team." Sources said that potential bidders "are being asked to sign non-disclosure agreements in the coming days." Bid books are "scheduled to be distributed shortly after Thanksgiving, with a first round of bidding planned for early January" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/19).