Fox wants Dodgers’ bankruptcy case dismissed, slams McCourt, MLB
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In a sharply worded court filing late Wednesday, Fox Sports said it would ask a U.S. Bankruptcy Court to dismiss the Dodgers from bankruptcy.
In the process, Fox slammed Major League Baseball as ‘Prime Ticket’s former ally’ and claimed the only reason Dodgers owner Frank McCourt wants to sell the team’s television rights now is to put ‘value rightfully belonging to Prime Ticket in his own pocket.’
On Nov. 1, McCourt and MLB reached an agreement under which he would sell the Dodgers and the league would not oppose an effort by McCourt to market the team’s television rights.
The Dodgers sued Fox earlier Wednesday, accusing the broadcaster of interfering with that marketing process; Fox previously sued the Dodgers for alleged breach of contract. The Dodgers have asked the court to declare unenforceable a provision of the current Fox contract that forbids the team from negotiating with other media outlets before Nov. 30, 2012.
In its filing, Fox called the sale agreement a ‘secret pact,’ noted MLB previously had opposed the TV rights sale, and complained that the agreement has neither been provided to Fox nor filed with the court in the subsequent two weeks. Fox asked that the hearing for approval of a TV rights sale be delayed beyond the scheduled Nov. 30 date.
The sale agreement explicitly leaves the TV rights decision to the new team owner. Accordingly, the Dodgers have proposed proceeding with the marketing process -- claiming that prospective owners would know the value of media rights before bidding on the team -- but letting the new owner decide whether to sign whatever TV deal might be negotiated.
‘It is ... wholly unclear why a new owner would not just engage in such negotiations itself,’ the Fox filing read. ‘The only apparent explanation is that the entire point of the process is to allow McCourt, now with the agreement of MLB, to obtain the proceeds of such a deal for himself as he brokers the team.’ Fox said it would soon file a motion to dismiss the Dodgers from bankruptcy, arguing that the sale agreement apparently resolves the differences between McCourt and MLB. For McCourt to sell the media rights along with the team, Fox argued, would represent an ‘improper and abusive use of the Bankruptcy Court’ that would only serve to ‘put value rightfully belonging to Prime Ticket in his own pocket.’
[UPDATED, 9:04 p.m.: In a statement in response, the Dodgers called Fox ‘obviously desperate’ to stop the sale of the television rights.
[‘Fox is obviously desperate to avoid the scheduled hearing on the media rights motion because Fox knows that, if the hearing goes forward, the court should grant the motion. When that occurs, the Dodgers will be able to show buyers of the team that the media rights have enormous value, which will lead to a record-smashing sale price for the team and benefit not just the Dodgers but all of baseball.’]
-- Bill Shaikin