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Fox granted stay; Dodgers can't sell TV rights for now

December 23, 2011 | 11:03 am

Dodger Stadium

The Dodgers must immediately halt their sale of the team's television rights, a U.S. District Court judge ruled Friday.

In granting to Fox Sports a stay of a U.S. Bankruptcy Court decision that permitted the Dodgers to shop their television rights, District Court Judge Leonard Stark ruled that he was "likely to conclude" that the decision was "based on one or more clearly erroneous findings of fact."

Stark is set to hear the Fox appeal on Jan. 12. If he follows through on Friday's ruling, the Dodgers would be prevented from selling their television rights along with the team, a step the Dodgers and their creditors had argued would maximize the sale price for the team.

The Dodgers could pursue their own appeal, but it is unlikely that such an appeal could be resolved in time to affect the sale of the team. Owner Frank McCourt has agreed with Major League Baseball that he would complete the sale of the Dodgers by April 30.

In his ruling, Stark wrote that there is no indication the Dodgers' emergence from bankruptcy depends on marketing the future television rights at this time. He wrote that the stay should not harm either the Dodgers or their creditors and cited "the public's interest in enforcing contractual rights."

The Dodgers' contract with Fox prevents the team from negotiating with other broadcast outlets until Nov. 30. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross had ruled that a so-called "no-shop" provision was not enforceable in bankruptcy; Stark said he is "likely to conclude" the provision is enforceable.

Stark said he would issue a detailed explanation of his ruling on Tuesday.

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— Bill Shaikin

Photo: Dodger Stadium. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times.

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