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Fox Sports asks court to take Dodgers out of bankruptcy

Fox Sports says the team need not pursue bankruptcy because creditors can be repaid when the team is sold. The Dodgers call the move 'an act of utter desperation.'

November 18, 2011|By Bill Shaikin
  • Dodgers owner Frank McCourt addresses the media during a news conference Friday to announce Matt Kemp's new $160-million contract.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt addresses the media during a news conference… (Kirby Lee / US Presswire )

Fox Sports on Friday asked that the Dodgers be discharged from bankruptcy immediately, capping an unusually acrimonious week in which Fox targeted outgoing owner Frank McCourt in legal filings for three consecutive days.

Not be outdone, the Dodgers sued Fox earlier in the week while calling the company "obviously desperate" in a statement Wednesday, alleging "desperation" by Fox in a statement Friday morning and branding the dismissal motion as "an act of utter desperation" in a statement Friday night.

Fox and McCourt — allies before the Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection — have become bitter combatants over McCourt's plan to market the team's television rights this off-season, along with selling the team itself.

In his settlement agreement with Major League Baseball, McCourt promised to complete the sale of the team by April 30.

"It is time for Mr. McCourt to stand down," Fox's Friday filing read.

The Dodgers say that marketing their television rights would enable prospective buyers of the team to learn the worth of those rights — and perhaps make a higher bid for the team.

Fox has asked the court to enforce the current TV contract with the Dodgers, which forbids the team from negotiating with other media outlets before Nov. 30, 2012. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court set an initial hearing on that issue for Tuesday.

In its filing Friday, Fox said McCourt need not pursue bankruptcy because he can repay his creditors in full by selling the team "for a handsome price," either with the current TV contract intact or with a new owner negotiating a new deal.

"Neither option requires these bankruptcy cases to continue," the filing read.

The Dodgers responded with a nine-word statement: "Simply put, an act of utter desperation by Fox."

In its court filings this week, Fox made clear its unhappiness with MLB — "Prime Ticket's former ally," as Fox put it — and the league's failure to include the television company in settlement discussions and leaving Fox to fight for itself once McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers.

"The telecast rights became the bargaining chip between MLB and Mr. McCourt to overcome Mr. McCourt's refusal to sell the Los Angeles Dodgers, despite MLB's threats to exile the team from the league," a filing read.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillShaikin

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