News Corp buys regional sports channel in Ohio

Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:57am EST

Dec 28 (Reuters) - News Corp said on Friday it bought SportsTime Ohio, a regional sports network based in Cleveland that broadcasts Cleveland Indians baseball games.

The company did not disclose financial details of the deal. A source close to the matter said on Friday the deal was worth roughly $230 million, which Reuters first reported on Dec. 3 [ID: nL1E8N4078].

The network also airs programming about the Cleveland Browns National Football League team, college football and high school sports.

News Corp said in a statement that the regional sports channel it already owns, called Fox Sports Ohio, will receive the long-term rights to air Cleveland Indians baseball games. That regional Fox channel is available in 5 million homes.

Fox Sports, which operates or holds stakes in 20 regional sports networks, provides sports programming to more than 67 million subscribers. It held the rights to Cleveland Indians games until 2006.

New York-based News Corp has been stepping up efforts to control the rights to key sports teams in response to Time Warner Cable Inc's $3 billion deal in February 2011 to carry the Los Angeles Lakers basketball games on its Time Warner SportsNet Channel.

Last month, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp said it would buy a 49 percent stake in the YES network, a sports channel controlled by the New York Yankees baseball team, a deal that sources said was valued at $3 billion. Reuters has reported that Fox is also negotiating a 25-year extension of its existing agreement to carry Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games and could pay as much as $6 billion for those rights.

News Corp is planning to separate its publishing and entertainment assets into two publicly traded companies next year. News Corp's regional sports networks, film and television businesses, which currently include the 20th Century Fox film studio, Fox broadcasting network and Fox News channel, will be part of the renamed parent company that will be called Fox Group.