Bloomberg News

Time Warner Cable Said to Consider Bid for Dodgers TV Rights

November 09, 2011

(Adds estimate for Dodgers’ value in seventh paragraph.)

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Time Warner Cable Inc., the second- largest U.S. cable-television provider, is considering bidding for the rights to broadcast Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Time Warner Cable wants a long-term deal similar to the contract it signed with the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team this year, said the person, who declined to be identified because the negotiations are private. Time Warner Cable would likely add the Dodgers games to its regional sports network that will begin broadcasting Lakers games for the 2012-2013 season, the person said.

After the Dodgers filed for bankruptcy in June, the team began fighting in court with baseball Commissioner Bud Selig over how to finance operations. Last week, team owner Frank McCourt agreed to sell the team and the media rights to future games, ending the dispute with Selig.

The Dodgers’ TV rights through 2013 are currently owned by News Corp.’s Fox, which broadcasts games on its regional sports network. Fox has said it also holds exclusive rights until November 2012 to negotiate a new deal with the team.

Auctioning the TV rights separately before November 2012 would violate the existing contract and expose the Dodgers to a claim for damages, Fox, MLB and lower-ranking creditors said separately in court papers filed in recent weeks.

The Dodgers will file an amended media-rights procurement motion with the bankruptcy court “in the near future,” explaining how a sale process would work, according to Robert Siegfried, a spokesman for the Dodgers.

Alex Dudley, a spokesman for New York-based Time Warner Cable, declined to comment.

Dodgers Bankruptcy

On Nov. 2, News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said the company doesn’t plan to buy the team. The Dodgers may sell for $1 billion, sports bankers including Gordon Saint- Denis, president of Katonah, New York-based Major League Sports Consulting LLC, said after the team entered bankruptcy.

Fox Sports attempted to lock up the Dodgers’ TV rights in June, offering McCourt a 17-year deal valued at about $3 billion. Selig rejected the deal on grounds that it wasn’t “in the best interests of the Los Angeles Dodgers” or the league. Rejecting the deal caused the team to declare bankruptcy, McCourt said in court papers filed in June.

Time Warner Cable rose 0.3 percent to $62.40 at the close in New York. The shares have fallen 5.5 percent this year. News Corp. rose 1.6 percent to $17.22 and has gained 18 percent this year.

--With assistance from David McLaughlin and Michele Steele in New York, and Steven Church in Wilmington, Delaware. Editors: Ville Heiskanen, Cecile Daurat

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net


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