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The Los Angeles Dodgers are accusing Fox Sports of illegally trying to interfere with efforts to sell the team and its assets, including media rights to future games.
Dodgers attorneys filed a complaint Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, alleging that lawyers for Fox Sports Net West, which runs the Prime Ticket regional sports network, sent a “cease and desist” letter to the Dodgers’ financial adviser, Blackstone Advisory Partners. Fox had said Blackstone solicited bids for TV rights to Dodgers games.
Prime Ticket has a contract to televise Dodgers games through 2013, and the deal gives the network an exclusive negotiating period from Oct. 15, 2012, through Nov. 30, 2012.
“Allowing others to bid or express interest in the media rights for the Dodgers is a clear breach of the letter and spirit of the exclusive negotiation term,” Fox lawyer Richard Stone wrote in the Nov. 9 letter.
The Dodgers, in their complaint, said the letter “was intended to interfere with the sale of the Dodgers and their assets in bankruptcy.”
In a motion filed with the court Saturday, the Dodgers asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross to approve allowing the team to market its media rights for 2014 and beyond and have the Fox exclusive 45-day negotiating period start whenever the court issues an order.
By “obtaining firm offers, LAD can demonstrate to buyers the substantial value of the post-2013 telecast rights,” the team wrote, adding that its agreement with Major League Baseball calls for a sale to occur by April 30. “LAD has determined in the exercise of its business judgment that marketing the post-2013 telecast Rights at this time will further the interests of LAD, as well as its creditors.”
Fox sued the Dodgers on Sept. 27, asking for an injunction to stop the Dodgers from acting in a manner inconsistent with the contract.
“This is just the latest chapter in the current owner’s ongoing scheme to avoid honoring his contractual obligations,” Fox spokesman Chris Bellitti said in a statement Wednesday. “The full truth of this unfortunate situation will soon become apparent to all.”