(Updates with Dodgers spokeswoman’s comment in fifth paragraph.)
Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- News Corp.’s Fox Sports sued the Los Angeles Dodgers to prevent a possible sale of future media rights as part of the Major League Baseball team’s bankruptcy.
By preparing to sell the television rights to future games, the Dodgers’ violated its contract with Fox Sports Net West 2 LLC, which does business as Prime Ticket, Fox said in a complaint filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware. The contract requires the team to only negotiate with Fox until October 2012 and gives the company matching rights to any deal cut after that date, Fox said.
Fox also accused team owner Frank McCourt of using bankruptcy to keep control of the team, not improve the Dodgers’ financial position.
The Dodgers’ “purported liquidity crisis has been resolved and the only crisis facing the debtors pertains to the control of the baseball club by present ownership,” Fox said in court papers.
“The Los Angeles Dodgers have fully complied with all of their obligations under the existing contract with Fox,” Stefanie Goodsell, a spokeswoman for the team, said today in an e-mailed statement. “The Dodgers look forward to the opportunity to obtain court approval of its marketing process, which will enable the Dodgers to emerge from bankruptcy on a solid financial footing.”
The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy in June after Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig named a monitor to oversee the team’s day-to-day operations and rejected a proposed television- rights deal with Fox Sports. The team said it faced a temporary cash crisis that would be resolved once it sold the future television rights.
The Dodgers engaged in talks with unidentified parties before filing for bankruptcy, violating Fox’s rights under the telecast agreement, Fox said in its filing.
Major League Baseball said in court papers last week that it won’t approve a new television contract reached by McCourt before the current Fox negotiating period ends in 2012. Selig asked the judge overseeing the bankruptcy case, Kevin Gross, to strip McCourt of his exclusive right to reorganize the Dodgers so MLB can try to sell the team.
The bankruptcy case is In re Los Angeles Dodgers LLC, 11- 12010, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
--Editors: Peter Blumberg, Michael Hytha
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