Time Warner Cable, Comcast may nix Mets' SNY sale: report

CHICAGO Sat Mar 19, 2011 12:42pm EDT

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Time Warner Cable Inc. and Comcast Corp. may block the New York Mets' owners from selling their stake in SportsNet New York (SNY), a jointly owned regional cable channel, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, owners of the baseball franchise, want to sell a minority stake in SportsNet to help cover their costs for the next two seasons. If their partners refused, it would complicate the sale, the Journal said.

The Mets owners are trying to raise roughly $200 million by selling a stake in SNY.

A Comcast spokesman declined to comment on the story. Time Warner Cable was not immediately available for comment.

Wilpon, Katz and their associates are being sued for more than $1 billion by the court-appointed trustee recovering assets for victims of disgraced U.S. financier Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

The trustee maintains the team owners, who invested with Madoff, knew or should have known of his fraud. The trustee filed an amended suit on Friday. The Mets owners denied the allegations.

In a statement posted on the New York Mets' website, Wilpon and Katz called the latest complaint, "The work of fiction created by the Trustee. We will pursue a vigorous legal defense that will set the record straight and vindicate us."

The Mets' owners control 65 percent of the cable channel, which broadcasts Mets games and other New York area sports. Time Warner Cable owns 27 percent of the network, while Comcast controls 8 percent through its majority interest in NBCUniversal, the Journal reported.

SNY is available to viewers throughout New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania, and nationally on DIRECTV, Dish Network and AT&T U-Verse.

(Reporting by Suzanne Cosgrove; Editing by Paul Simao)

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