Fox says to seek dismissal of Dodgers bankruptcy

Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:27am EST

Signage advertising half price food and drink is shown outside Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles June 27, 2011.  REUTERS/Sam Mircovich

Signage advertising half price food and drink is shown outside Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles June 27, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Sam Mircovich

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(Reuters) - Fox Sports wants the Los Angeles Dodgers thrown out of bankruptcy, saying the baseball team is using Chapter 11 to enrich club owner Frank McCourt.

Earlier this month McCourt ended a bitter feud with Major League Baseball over control of the team. As part of that deal, he agreed to sell the team and the league agreed to drop its opposition to the team's plan to sell future media rights, a source told Reuters.

Selling the media rights is expected to enhance the value of the team ahead of a sale and ultimately put more money in McCourt's pocket.

While that agreement settled one legal battle, it opened a new one pitting the team against Fox, which broadcasts Dodgers games. In order to sell the media rights to games beginning in 2014, the team plans to alter an exclusive negotiating period with Fox, which operates as Prime Ticket.

The broadcaster opposes those changes, saying in a court filing late Wednesday that they are being done "to transfer additional economic value from Prime Ticket to McCourt."

Fox has also accused the team of contacting other potential bidders for the media rights, violating Fox's exclusive negotiating right.

Fox, a division of News Corp, asked the court to postpone a hearing on the Dodgers' media rights request until it considers the request to end the bankruptcy. Fox said it intends to file that request shortly.

The Dodgers said in a statement that Fox wanted to postpone the media rights hearing because "they are not prepared for the hearing or they think they will lose."

"Given that the (media rights) motion has been pending for roughly two months, there is no excuse if they are not prepared. That means they think they will lose," the statement said.

The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy in June after the MLB commissioner, Bud Selig, rejected the team's proposal to sell the rights to broadcast its games for $3 billion.

While McCourt and Selig have agreed to a settlement, they have not said how they plan to sell the team in a way that satisfies both sides.

The bankruptcy case is In re:Los Angeles Dodgers LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No.11-12010.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; editing by John Wallace)

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