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UPDATE 1-Dodgers hearing on Fox Sports dispute canceled
Nov 21 (Reuters) - A Los Angeles Dodgers bankruptcy court hearing on whether to dismiss the team's bankruptcy filing has been canceled without explanation, according to court documents.
Fox Sports, which has a contract to broadcast the team's games through 2013, on Friday asked the bankruptcy court to consider dismissing the bankruptcy case, saying that the team's bankruptcy was not valid and just an attempt to invalidate Fox's TV-rights contract.
The hearing was scheduled for Tuesday and no reason was given for its cancellation.
Fox Sports, a part of News Corp , is trying to hold on to the right to broadcast the team's games, which it currently carries on Prime Ticket, a regional sports network. Under its current contract, Fox Sports has another year during which it has the exclusive right to negotiate a new contract.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, have struck a deal with Major League Baseball in which it has agreed to sell the team -- including the media rights -- and it wants to begin those negotiations immediately rather than wait for the contract to expire.
A Fox Sports spokesman was not immediately available for comment on why the hearing was canceled. A Dodgers spokeswoman said that the Dodgers "look forward to the opportunity on November 30th to seek approval of the marketing procedures for the media rights."
The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy in June as its owner Frank McCourt struggled to meet the payroll. Major League Baseball fought McCourt's efforts to retain control of the team in bankruptcy court and eventually the team and the league agreed on terms for a sale.
BIDS DUE IN JANUARY
Financial information on the team and its assets is scheduled to go to potential buyers in December with initial bids due in January, sources familiar with the process told Reuters. The sale of the team inherently includes media rights -- whether or not it is free and clear of a Fox contract.
If a cable company wants to create a regional sports network for the team's games, it might do so in conjunction with other investors interested in buying the team, the sources said. A bid might be structured so that the different parties hold cross-ownerships in the team and the network, they said.
The sales process is expected to be wrapped up by the end of April, in time for the start of the 2012 Major League season, the sources said. The sale is expected to occur regardless of whether the issues with Fox are resolved, but those issues might affect the selling price, they said.
A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 30 in which the debtors are looking for approval for the sales procedures for the team.
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