Judge: Dodgers can sell media rights to help exit bankruptcy

FILE: Milwaukee Brewers @ Los Angeles Dodgers, Dodger Stadium, May 6, 2006
FILE: Milwaukee Brewers @ Los Angeles Dodgers, Dodger Stadium, May 6, 2006
MPR529/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

A bankruptcy judge says he will approve a process for the Los Angeles Dodgers to sell media rights for future games as part of the team's plan to exit bankruptcy.

The plan calls for the Dodgers to receive initial bids by January 13 and complete the sale by April 30.

Fox Sports objected to the proposed sale, saying it would violate its rights under an existing contract with the Dodgers. That contract gives Fox an exclusive 45-day period starting in October 2012 to negotiate a new deal.

According to Edwin Desser, president of Desser Sports Media Inc. and currently testifying on behalf of Fox Sports, television rights for the Los Angeles Dodgers are worth about $100 million a year.

Desser went on to tell the judge presiding over the Dodger's bankruptcy that competition for sports programming is driving up the price companies are willing to pay for media rights.

β€œI suspect that Time Warner is going to be very interested and Fox is going to be very aware of that,” Desser said. β€œIt has clearly provided some motivation for Fox.”

The Dodgers want to move up the timetable for Fox's exclusive negotiating period, saying a media rights sale now in conjunction with a sale of the team itself is the best way to maximize value for creditors and emerge from bankruptcy.

"We know that, according to [Dodgers' manager Frank] McCourt, they had deal with Fox for 3 billion," said Bill Schaikin of the L.A. Times. "That's just with Fox. Once it's opened to competitive billing, you're looking at 4 billion, maybe more."

This story has been updated.