Fox Seeks Restraining Order Against Dodgers Over Media Rights


In the ongoing legal battle surrounding the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Fox Sports filed suit to obtain a restraining order to prevent the club from marketing its media rights.
Fox's action was filed Nov. 17 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware as the programmer looks to protect the TV rights to the club its regional sports network Prime Ticket holds for the 2012 and 2013 Major League Baseball seasons, as well as an exclusive negotiating period that concludes next November.
The Dodgers embattled owner Frank McCourt has agreed with Major League Baseball to sell the club, with the auction being handled by Blackstone Partners, through the bankruptcy court. McCourt is looking to build the value of the Dodgers by enhancing its media rights and filed a suit against Fox on Nov. 16 for allegedly interfering with its effort to build that market. The Dodgers' legal game plan calls for Prime Ticket to televise games the next two seasons, but close the RSN's exclusive negotiating window, so it can seek additional bidders.
Fox also expanded its breach of contract suit against the Dodgers to encompass McCourt and an umbrella company for a number of his businesses. It also said the team no longer needs to remain under bankruptcy protection since McCourt had agreed to divest the squad.
The bankruptcy court has yet to approve the settlement arrangement between MLB and McCourt. A hearing over the rights play has been scheduled for Nov. 30, which Fox is looking to postpone for preparation purposes.
As Prime Ticket strives to protect its contract, Time Warner Cable has expressed interest in the Dodgers rights -- should they become available. The MSO will tip off a pair of RSNs, centered around the Los Angeles Lakers in the City of Angels environs next October. Fox Sports West and KCAL had been the long-time rights-holders; the MSO's 20-year partnership with the famed NBA franchise is valued at some $3 billion.
The RSNs, Time Warner Cable Sportsnet and Time Warner Cable Deportes, the moniker for the Spanish-language service, have also secured the rights to Major League Soccer's from Fox Sports West for a reported $55 million over 10 years.