Dodgers invite Fox Sports to take lesser television role

The Dodgers have invited Fox Sports to take a lesser role in the team’s television future, according to two people familiar with the matter but not authorized to discuss it.

The Dodgers have reached agreement with Time Warner Cable on a television contract believed to be worth between $7 billion and $8 billion to the team. The deal, in which the Dodgers will launch a team-owned channel that will carry the Dodgers name, is expected to be announced shortly.

Mark Walter, the Dodgers’ controlling owner, met with Major League Baseball officials Thursday in New York. The Dodgers would like to reach agreement with the league on how much of that money must be contributed to other teams through the MLB revenue-sharing program. However, the team is prepared to take the matter to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which has final say as part of a settlement between the league and former owner Frank McCourt.

Fox Sports has not had formal discussions with the Dodgers since the team reached agreement with Time Warner Cable. It is unclear exactly what the Dodgers might propose to Fox or whether the Time Warner Cable contract would need to be modified in any way.

However, according to the people, the Dodgers could consider pitching Fox on carrying a small number of games on Channels 11 or 13. That would enable the team to continue providing at least a few games on free local television for the benefit of fans without cable or satellite subscriptions. The people also said the Dodgers might be interested in securing spots for their team on the national broadcasts on Fox Sports 1, the soon-to-be-launched Fox rival to ESPN.

Although Time Warner Cable substantially outbid Fox for the new television contract, the Dodgers’ new owners were believed to be impressed with the non-financial elements of the Fox proposal.