Fox Sports Sues Over Dodgers TV Rights Sale

Owner Frank McCourt has been counting on the sale of TV rights so the team can emerge from bankruptcy protection

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was thrown another curveball late Tuesday in the team's bankruptcy saga -- a lawsuit by Fox Sports regarding the team's television rights deal.

The Changeup: Events in the Dodgers Bankruptcy Case

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday evening in Delaware bankruptcy court, asks that any proposed sale of the team's television rights be rejected if it does not abide by the terms of the current contract. A television rights deal is central to the ongoing Dodgers ownership battle because McCourt was counting the sale to help the team emerge from bankruptcy protection.

Fox has exclusive negotiating rights through November 2012, but it's not just the future of the team's television rights that's mentioned in the lawsuit. The Dodgers have already violated the current contract by sharing confidential broadcast rights information, according to the lawsuit.

In a statement to the LA Times, Dodgers spokeswoman Lyndsey Estin said the team has "fully complied" with terms of the current contract.

Major League Baseball is attempting to force a sale of the team, and a hearing on its motion is scheduled for Oct. 12. Earlier Tuesday, the Dodgers asked that the hearing be postponed.

Attorneys for the Dodgers have accused MLB of using "heavy handed" tactics and treating the team differently than other franchises. Those efforts have hampered the team's reorganization efforts, which are tied to a TV rights deals, according to attorneys for the team.

Attorneys for MLB have said McCourt has tried to resolve his own financial problems to the detriment of the franchise.

The current TV rights dispute can be traced back to June when the team filed for bankruptcy protection. MLB objected to the filing and submitted its own loan proposal that same month.

In July, a bankruptcy judge rejected the team's proposed $150 million bankruptcy financing plan.

"Had debtors negotiated with baseball, a more economically viable loan may have developed – but at a high cost to the debtors’ decision-maker, Mr. McCourt," Judge Kevin Gross ruled.

Gross' decision compelled the Dodgers to negotiate with the MLB for a loan. Their loan agreement was submitted in August.

Another twist was added to the Dodgers-MLB fight Friday when the league filed its motion to request that the bankruptcy judge order the sale of the team. The Dodgers called the filing "meritless."

"The alternative offered today by Major League Baseball really amounts to an unnecessary and value destroying distressed sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers," the team said in the statement.

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