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Fox seeks to block Dodgers' hiring of firm to market TV rights

July 29, 2011 |  3:03 pm

Frank-mccourt_250 Dodgers owner Frank McCourt should not be allowed to hire an investment bank to sell the team's cable television rights, Fox Sports argued in a bankruptcy court filing on Friday.

McCourt has asked the court for permission to retain Blackstone Advisory Partners -- for a $7-million fee and $175,000 per month -- for the purposes of restructuring the Dodgers' finances and marketing the team's cable rights. McCourt and his attorneys have said the revenue from a new cable deal would be critical to the Dodgers' plan to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of the year.

But under the Dodgers' current contract with Fox, the team cannot negotiate with any party besides Fox before Nov. 30, 2012, according to a previous court filing.

In Friday's filing, the Fox attorneys wrote: "The telecast agreement sets forth an explicit negotiation timeline and process with which [the Dodgers] must abide. ... The current employment of Blackstone for that purpose is premature."

If the court were to approve the hiring of Blackstone, Fox wants permission to oppose the sale of the Dodgers' cable rights later in the bankruptcy proceedings and to sue the Dodgers at a later time.

If McCourt is allowed to auction the Dodgers' cable rights, Fox's Prime Ticket channel presumably would bid against Time Warner's new Lakers channel, with the loser running an all-sports outlet with no live summer programming. 

Major League Baseball also is expected to oppose, in bankruptcy court, McCourt's bid to sell the Dodgers' cable rights.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross is expected to hear arguments on the issue Aug. 16.


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-- Bill Shaikin

Photo: Frank McCourt. Credit: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press