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Will Lakers TV mean an end to McCourt's DTV? [UPDATED]

Frank and Jamie McCourt have been unable to resolve their divorce in part because she wants a share of the Dodgers' future television revenues as part of any settlement. The Dodgers' contract with Fox expires in 2013.

Beyond then, according to court documents, Frank McCourt had intended to launch cable channels dubbed "DTV: Dodger Television" in English and Spanish, enabling the team to more than triple its annual television revenue if projections held true.

That plan was seriously jeopardized on Monday, when the Lakers announced two cable channels of their own, in a partnership with Time Warner that would include "the nation's first Spanish-language regional sports network."

Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch declined to comment on how the Lakers' announcement might impact the Dodgers' television plans. However, two sports industry consultants said what the Dodgers might have lost in financial upside could be somewhat mitigated with the newfound leverage of more sports channels in town.

"It opens up a heck of a lot more what-ifs," said Andy Dolich, a former top executive with the Oakland Athletics, San Francisco 49ers and Memphis Grizzlies.

McCourt still could pursue DTV, although local cable and satellite operators might balk at adding a Dodgers-themed channel, since subscribers might balk at paying for DTV, the Lakers channels, Fox Sports West and Fox's Prime Ticket.

The Lakers, however, just provided McCourt with additional leverage. Until Monday, the Dodgers could say to Fox, "If you don't offer us enough money to renew our deal, we'll start our own channel." Now the Dodgers can say to Fox, "If you don't offer us enough, we can start our own channel or move our games to the Lakers channel."

Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based Sportscorp Ltd., said the Dodgers' best financial option would have been to partner with the Lakers and share equity in creating what he said would have been "the No. 1 RSN in the market." (The Dodgers did approach the Lakers about that possibility, according to one industry source who declined to be identified. Rawitch declined to comment.)

The Dodgers still could sell their broadcast rights to the Lakers and Time Warner, Dolich said, since baseball games would help fill summer air time on the new channel.

"To me, that's logical," Dolich said.

However, since the loss of the Lakers and Dodgers would deprive Fox of arguably its two most valuable sports properties, Ganis said Fox might make the Dodgers an enormously lucrative contract offer.

"I think it is more likely they'll do something with Fox," Ganis said, "maybe even an equity venture."

That, of course, would put the proverbial ball back in the court of Commissioner Bud Selig. With attorneys suggesting McCourt could finance a divorce settlement and retain control of the Dodgers by signing a new deal with Fox, the commissioner has signaled he might not approve any deal in which Fox would throw McCourt a financial lifeline.

[Updated at 9:52 a.m.: Jim Gordon of Time Warner clarifies that the Lakers have no equity stake in the new channels. Time Warner will own and operate them.]

-- Bill Shaikin

 
Comments () | Archives (8)

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It doesn't make any difference to me as long as I got my MLB.TV, at least until each team has it's own nation wide T.V. network. O Oh what it's it's my alarm clock. Buzz,buzz,buzz.

I really hope the last sentence of this article turns out to be true.

Don't do it, Selig. The league office has embarrassed the Dodgers twice with terrible owners. Do the right thing for a change and find a responsible local family.

The problem anyone would have with the Dodgers situation, least of all the commissioner who appointed the Dodgers to him specifically TO keep spending down on free agents in the West, is that in a divorce trial, assets are divided today, not iffily what may or, as this article reveals, may not be there in 2 years. Jamie can't project a worth of the team before it can realize its opportunities, and no judge is going to put off her getting her half of whatever it will be for two years as the jockeying in the Dodgers tv situation goes on. The divorce can't linger that long, she can say justifiably, while he controls her assets.

Bottom line, as the Dodgers tv situation gets murkier and not clearer, it benefits a wrap on the proceedings sooner than later, and that's good news for a forced sale, to realize current assets in an open market, and eventually the return of Dodger tradition versus its current penny-ante San Francisco Giant-look-alike-ism.

Native Angeleno:

You are correct in that, if the McCourts cannot settle, the judge could settle the case for them and would account for the Dodgers at present value, not at some undetermined future value.

At this point, Frank is the one pursuing additional litigation, not Jamie. According to her lawyers, she owns half the team and would settle on that basis now. Whether Frank and Jamie could reach a settlement agreeable to both is another matter, of course.

But, so long as the judge is satisfied Frank is taking no action that would diminish the value of the Dodgers -- and that would not be in Frank's best interest anyway -- the judge need not rush to resolve the divorce. In fact, Frank's attorneys would tell you Jamie would like nothing better than for the case to drag on so long that the Dodgers' new TV deal would be negotiated before the divorce is resolved.

If there really ever was any chance of "Dodger TV", it died with yesterday's announcement by the Lakers.

Its done, finished, dead - Kaput!!

Take whatever Fox offers you Frank! Its your only hope now ...

Thank you Bill.

Let's bring back the Z channel! Dodger games and Foreign films. I know 16 blows is down for that.


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