UPDATE, 11:54 AM: Time Warner Cable has responded to the suit: “As a major job creator, tax contributor and service provider in the City of Los Angeles, Time Warner Cable is an active and responsible corporate citizen in the City of Los Angeles. We are disappointed the City has chosen to bring this action, which we strongly believe is without merit. It will now be resolved through the legal process.”
PREVIOUS, 11:26 AM: Time Warner Cable is about to learn what happens when City Hall takes you on. L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer said today that he’s going after the cable giant in a nearly $10 million lawsuit (read it here) alleging that TWC has refused to pay fees owed the city since 2011 while at the same time raking in billions in revenue. ”Time Warner pocketed the money from its subscribers and didn’t turn it over to the City of LA,” Feuer said during a press conference this morning downtown. “That money would have funded 100 police officers and miles of sidewalk repair,” he said. The city is demanding Time Warner Cable pay up on $9,697,896 owed – $2,512,490 in 2008 and 2009 franchise and Public, Educational, Government use (PEG) fees, plus $7,185,406 in 2010 and 2011 franchise and PEG fees. Feuer added that the suit, filed this morning in … Read More »
In LA it might be the only story that will get more cheers than the Dodgers‘ current eye-opening summer streak — they’re now 23 games above .500 and running away from the rest of the NL West. The team said today that play-by-play man Vin Scully will return for duty in 2014. He is 85. The Hall of Famer and LA icon will continue to call all Dodgers home games next season as well as road games in California and Arizona; he will do all nine innings of Time Warner SportsNet LA broadcasts beginning next year, with the first three innings simulcast on radio. Scully had announced plans to retire for good in 2010 but has been making year-to-year decisions about staying in the booth ever since.
Sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers for a record $2.15 billion to a group led by former LA Lakers star Magic Johnson has been approved by federal bankruptcy Judge Kevin Goss, Bloomberg reports. Buyers also include Guggenheim Partners Chief Executive Officer Mark Walter and former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten. Remaining disputes between the bankrupt team and Major League Baseball will be submitted to the judge, who is expected to make final decisions to allow the deal to close April 30. MLB’s remaining issues with the proposed sale include who will own stadium parking lots and whether court-appointed mediator Joseph Farnan will retain authority to make final rulings related to the transaction. Gross praised Farnan, a retired federal judge, asserting that without his work, the sale and the end of bankruptcy would have taken much longer. If the deal proceeds as expected, the Dodgers can exit bankruptcy April 30.
Related: Magic Johnson’s Group Wins Bidding To Buy Dodgers For $2B
The bankruptcy judge in the Los Angeles Dodgers case has scheduled a hearing April 13 to consider whether to confirm the revised Chapter 11 plan filed yesterday, ESPN reports. The Dodgers said the team is on track to exit bankruptcy as planned by April 30. The plan is based on the agreement by Magic Johnson- and baseball exec Stan Johnson-led Guggenheim Baseball Management to purchase the Dodgers for more than $2 billion, which the team contends will allow payment of all allowed creditor claims in full. Purchase price includes about $412 million of existing debt financing. The balance will be paid the current owner Frank McCourt from equity financing by owners and affiliates of Guggenheim, which has provided a cash deposit of about $159 million. The April 30 date was part of a settlement between the Dodgers and Major League Baseball. The date coincides with the deadline for McCourt to pay $131 million to his ex-wife, Jamie, under terms of their divorce. If necessary, however, the Dodgers can seek MLB approval to extend the closing date.
Related: Magic Johnson’s Group Wins Bidding To Buy Dodgers For Record $2B
Sources tell Bloomberg that News Corp is working to obtain rights from pay TV outlets and sports leagues to launch a national cable network that could begin service by year’s end. No final decision has been made, but the plan would involve converting the company’s action sports network Fuel (36 million subs) into a new national offering, which would compete against fellow cablers Disney/ABC’s ESPN, Comcast’s new NBC Sports Network and the CBS Sports Network. Like those entities, News Corp is attracted to the juicy affiliate fees a national sports network can command; SNL Kagan estimates ESPN will collect $5.06 per subscriber each month in 2012, more than any other cable channel. Other ESPN channels — including ESPN Classic, ESPN2 and ESPNews — collectively generate an additional $4.13 per sub per month. By contrast, Fuel collects about 15 cents per sub each month. Additional money would come in handy to offset the growing costs of sports rights these days, and it might not be a coincidence that this news comes a day after the Dodgers chose new owners who will be very interested in selling TV rights to the team’s games in the nation’s second-largest TV market – it’s a price tag that could go as high as $3 billion (or even $4 billion if you believe the LA Times). Fox Sports is the current owner of Dodgers rights but will need the … Read More »
Chase Carey said back in November that News Corp had no interest in buying the Los Angeles Dodgers, but that appears to have changed. The Wall Street Journal reports today that Fox has signed a nondisclosure agreement that allows it to bid to purchase the team. According to WSJ, Fox would seek a 15%-20% minority interest only — it doesn’t want to own the team outright, like it did from 1998-2004 — in a move designed to give it leverage over lucrative local TV rights. Currently, Fox Sports’ regional Prime Ticket network has exclusive rights through the end of next season, and just settled a lawsuit with the Dodgers, who wanted to shorten that exclusivity window to force a bidding war for TV rights, which could be worth as much as $3 billion. That monster number is at the heart of what will be a wild bidding process to buy the team, with that potential windfall driving up the price of what any new owner (and there are many lining up to bid) will have to pay to purchase the team from owner Frank McCourt. Those initial offers from those numerous ownership groups are due January 23. Read More »
Fox Sports has asked a federal bankruptcy court to dismiss the Dodgers from bankruptcy as the networks said it would earlier this week, the LA Times reported late Friday. Fox Sports said it is not necessary for owner Frank McCourt to market the team’s TV rights to fulfill his obligations to creditors. Fox contends McCourt can repay his creditors in full simply by selling the team “for a handsome price” either with the current TV contract with Fox Sports or with a new owner negotiating a new TV deal. The team’s bankruptcy likely would hamper Fox’s ability to enforce its existing contract without court intervention. The Dodgers would like to auction those rights and attract higher bids for the team and for those broadcast rights. Fox has asked the court to enforce the current contract that bars the Dodgers from discussions with any other media outlets before November 30, 2012. Major League Baseball extracted an agreement with McCourt to sell the team, and he’s promised to close a sale by April 30. Fox cited the $160 million contract with Matt Kemp as evidence that bankruptcy is not necessary for the Dodgers to continue operating and that McCourt is just trying to come out of any deal with more money in his own pocket.
The Los Angeles Dodgers today asked the judge in their bankruptcy case to let them auction off their local TV rights for the 2014 season and beyond. The team said the sports rights market was “vibrant” now and they wanted to try to cut a deal “to avoid any risk of deterioration in value.” Prior to their bankruptcy filing, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig rejected owner Frank McCourt’s deal with Fox Sports’ Prime Ticket. That blocked a $385M upfront payment on the proposed deal, worth an estimated $3B. Fox still has an exclusive negotiating period with the team set for Oct. 15-Nov. 30 of next year, but the Dodgers maintain the bankruptcy negates it. In its filing in Delaware federal court, the team asked that its 45-day negotiating term with Fox be moved up to this year, followed by 60 days of open bidding. Time Warner Cable, Dish Network and DirecTV might be bidders, the team’s filing said. Any deal would be subject to MLB’s approval. A hearing is set for Oct. 12.
The Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to borrow as much as $150 million from Major League Baseball, almost two weeks after the judge overseeing the team’s bankruptcy ordered the two sides to negotiate a deal. The Dodgers today sought a judge’s approval for terms of the loan, which would finance the team’s operations while it is under court protection in Wilmington, Del., according to a report from Bloomberg. The plan does not address the proposed cable television rights deal Dodgers owner Frank McCourt negotiated with News Corp’s Fox Sports. It was MLB’s refusal to OK that deal which lead to the Dodgers filing for bankruptcy in June. Team lawyers said in court they intend to try to sell those rights while in bankruptcy and will propose rules for marketing them this month. Fox has said in court that it would oppose any effort to sell the rights before its exclusive right to negotiate a deal expires next year.