A U.S. Bankruptcy judge today set December 7 to kick off a two-day hearing about whether the Los Angeles Dodgers can begin marketing the team’s lucrative future local TV rights, which Fox Sports holds through the end of the 2013 baseball season. Fox already has sued the Dodgers to block any early rights sale. The network claims its regional network has an exclusive window to renegotiate a new deal as part of its current contract, and that that team is using bankruptcy protection to break that agreement. (As part of that lawsuit, Fox will ask Judge Kevin Gross to dismiss the team’s bankruptcy altogether in a hearing set for December 27.) How valuable are those TV rights? Soon-to-be-ex-Dodgers owner Frank McCourt at one time had a $3 billion deal with Fox in place before it was rejected by Major League Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig, forcing McCourt to seek bankruptcy for the team and eventually agree to sell the franchise outright.
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 …
The Los Angeles Dodgers sued Fox Sports on Wednesday, accusing the News Corp-owned network of attempting to ”interfere with the sale of the Dodgers and their assets in bankruptcy.” The Dodgers’ goal is to sell the team and its valuable TV rights through separate court-sanctioned auctions to maximize returns. In a sharply worded court response filed Wednesday night Fox said it would ask that the Dodgers be dismissed from bankruptcy, according to the LA Times. Fox slammed Major League Baseball as “Prime Ticket’s former ally” and asserted the only reason Frank McCourt wants to auction the team’s TV rights now is to put “value rightfully belonging to Prime Ticket,in his own pocket” — referring to Fox Sports’ package of programming. The Dodgers’ suit was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, where Fox already has a suit pending against the team for alleged breach of contract in the continuing squabble over TV rights. Responding to the latest development, the Dodgers called Fox “obviously desperate” to prevent an auction that would reveal the “enormous value” of those rights and “lead to a record-smashing sale price for the team and benefit not just the Dodgers but all of baseball.”
Sports Report: NFL Thursday TV Package In Play; Dodgers Anger Ally Fox Sports; NBA Lockout Hits The Courts
The NFL is shopping an eight-game Thursday primetime TV package, with commissioner Roger Goodell having informal conversations with networks last week, according to the Sports Business Journal, which is reporting that a stake in the league’s NFL Network might be in play for the winning bidder. The talks are expected to gain momentum now that the league-imposed lockout is over. The NFL Network currently has rights to eight late-season Thursday NFL games; the new package will cover the early season. The SBJ says Turner and Comcast would be front-runners, especially since they have cut previous deals that included league-owned assets (Turner pacted with the NBA in 2007; Comcast has a similar deal with the NHL). Fox and ESPN also are expected to be interested in the package. …
Dodgers Owner Gets OK For Bankruptcy Loan; League Backs Off After Team Agrees Not To Auction TV Rights
The Delaware court that is sorting out the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chapter 11 filing has authorized the team to enter into a $150 million bankruptcy financing arrangement that will allow owner Frank McCourt to meet the Dodgers’ payroll obligations …
With no resolution in sight over a lucrative Fox Sports TV deal that would give owner Frank McCourt the cash influx he needs to continue operating the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday. The move allows the team to use $150 million for daily operations and gives the franchise some time to find a new TV deal; Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig rejected the proposed long-term deal with Fox last week, saying “the transaction is structured to facilitate the further diversion of Dodgers assets for the personal needs of Mr. McCourt.” Baseball had already taken control of the team in April. Said McCourt — who faces a costly divorce that could force the sale of the team, skyrocketing payroll obligations, declining attendance and a commissioner that is sick of it all — in a statement Monday:
Last week, Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt agreed to a plan for a divorce settlement that would have given Frank McCourt sole ownership of the franchise — if Major League Baseball approved a lucrative TV deal that McCourt struck with Fox. That multiyear deal worth $3 billion (and, more importantly, $385 million upfront) would help McCourt shore up the Dodgers, who right now are being controlled by the league during all of this divorce mess. Well, baseball commissioner Bud Selig always seemed reluctant to OK the Fox contract, and today Selig made it official by rejecting the deal, saying in part that “the transaction is structured to facilitate the further diversion of Dodgers assets for the personal needs of Mr. McCourt.” Ouch. Under terms of the divorce plan, it means the Dodgers are one step closer to being sold off — the assets would be split 50-50 between Frank and Jamie — unless Frank can find some other way to get a massive amount of money together to play his players’ monthly salaries and restore the league’s faith in him as an owner. Here’s Selig’s statement:
Los Angeles Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt were in an LA courtroom today saying they have agreed to a divorce settlement that could potentially take the team out of ownership limbo. But as usual in this case it doesn’t come without a big question mark. According to the LA Times, the deal hinges on Major League Baseball approving Frank McCourt’s multiyear TV deal with Fox that is worth as much as $3 billion, cash that would allow him to meet his team’s payroll obligations and give him the stability to retake financial control of the franchise, which right now is being handled by the league during all of this mess. The Fox deal calls for a $385 million upfront loan to McCourt to handle the Dodgers’ immediate money problems, Bloomberg reports. Here’s the problem, though: the league is hesitant to approve any TV contract in case the Dodgers need to be sold as part of a community property divorce settlement, worried any TV deal signed to now could be undervalued for the new owners. Frank McCourt has said that the league is stalling on purpose to force him out.