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Dodgers leaning toward TV deal with Time Warner Cable

January 18, 2013|By Bill Shaikin
  • Stan Kasten, president and CEO of the Dodgers, right, and Janet Marie Smith, senior vice president of planning and development, speak about improvements to Dodger Stadium on Jan. 8.
Stan Kasten, president and CEO of the Dodgers, right, and Janet Marie Smith,… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)

The Dodgers are leaning toward moving their television broadcasts from Fox Sports to Time Warner Cable starting in 2014, according to people familiar with the matter but not authorized to discuss it.

The Dodgers have not made a final decision, the people said.

The Dodgers also have yet to reach agreement with Major League Baseball on how the structure of a deal would affect the team’s contribution to the MLB revenue-sharing system, according to a person familiar with the discussions but not authorized to comment on them.

With the Dodgers expected to sign the most lucrative local television contract in baseball history – perhaps worth close to $7 billion – the sides are analyzing whether the team’s revenue-sharing bill should be closer to $1 billion or $2 billion.

Mark Walter, the Dodgers’ controlling owner, and MLB Executive Vice President Rob Manfred discussed the issue at the owners’ meetings in Arizona last week. Walter did not respond to several messages; Manfred declined to comment.

The Dodgers would prefer to resolve the matter with MLB rather than refer it to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which is empowered to settle any disputes as part of the settlement between the league and former owner Frank McCourt.

The Dodgers’ current contract with Fox expires after the 2013 season. The team had discussed a new deal with Fox last fall, worth at least $6 billion over 25 years. However, as MLB and the Dodgers discussed their differences over the revenue-sharing issue, the Fox exclusive negotiating window expired, enabling Time Warner to initiate negotiations with the team.

Fox Sports launched a second local cable channel – now called Prime Ticket – to carry the Dodgers in 1997. Fox Sports previously lost the Lakers to Time Warner Cable, and the departure of the Dodgers would leave Fox with the Angels, Clippers, Ducks and Kings as the anchor teams for two channels.

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