Fox Sports Speaks Out Against Plan to Auction Off L.A. Dodgers Broadcast Rights

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Selling the media rights could allow the baseball team to emerge from bankruptcy and Frank McCourt to keep his ownership stake.

NEW YORK - Fox Sports, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., is protesting the Los Angeles Dodgers' request to hire investment bank Blackstone Group to market the baseball team's broadcast rights, the Wall Street Journal, which is also part of News Corp., reported.

Fox had been one of the closest partners of embattled Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.

In court papers, Fox Sports said that the proposed move to market Dodgers media rights goes against the company's agreement to broadcast team games through the 2013 season, according to the Journal. It also mentioned a provision that gives Fox Sports exclusive negotiation rights through Nov. 2012. The team has made it clear in hearings and court papers that it plans to launch an auction of the media rights as soon as this month, the paper said.

"The current employment of Blackstone for that purpose is premature, and such employment should be denied," Fox Sports attorneys said in court papers, according to the Journal.

Selling the broadcast rights could allow the Dodgers to emerge from bankruptcy and McCourt to keep his ownership stake. Otherwise, he may have to sell part or all of the team.

Fox Sports advanced to the Dodgers fees for the 2011 TV rights and agreed to a 17-year, $2.7 billion extension to its current broadcast deal. But Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig rejected the proposal because a portion of an attached loan would have gone to a divorce settlement with McCourt's former wife, Jamie.

 A hearing on the Dodgers' request to hire Blackstone is set for Aug. 16.

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